Background: The role of diet in India's rapidly progressing chronic disease epidemic is unclear; moreover, diet may vary considerably across North-South regions.
Methods: The India Health Study was a multicenter study of men and women aged 35-69, who provided diet, lifestyle, and medical histories, as well as blood pressure, fasting blood, urine, and anthropometric measurements. In each region (Delhi, n=824; Mumbai, n=743; Trivandrum, n=2,247), we identified two dietary patterns with factor analysis. In multiple logistic regression models adjusted for age, gender, education, income, marital status, religion, physical activity, tobacco, alcohol, and total energy intake, we investigated associations between regional dietary patterns and abdominal adiposity, hypertension, diabetes, and dyslipidemia.
Results: Across the regions, more than 80% of the participants met the criteria for abdominal adiposity and 10 to 28% of participants were considered diabetic. In Delhi, the "fruit and dairy" dietary pattern was positively associated with abdominal adiposity [highest versus lowest tertile, multivariate-adjusted OR and 95% CI: 2.32 (1.03-5.23); Ptrend=0.008] and hypertension [2.20 (1.47-3.31); Ptrend<0.0001]. In Trivandrum, the "pulses and rice" pattern was inversely related to diabetes [0.70 (0.51-0.95); Ptrend=0.03] and the "snacks and sweets" pattern was positively associated with abdominal adiposity [2.05 (1.34-3.14); Ptrend=0.03]. In Mumbai, the "fruit and vegetable" pattern was inversely associated with hypertension [0.63 (0.40-0.99); Ptrend=0.05] and the "snack and meat" pattern appeared to be positively associated with abdominal adiposity.
Conclusions: Cardio-metabolic risk factors were highly prevalent in this population. Across all regions, we found little evidence of a Westernized diet; however, dietary patterns characterized by animal products, fried snacks, or sweets appeared to be positively associated with abdominal adiposity. Conversely, more traditional diets in the Southern regions were inversely related to diabetes and hypertension. Continued investigation of diet, as well as other environmental and biological factors, will be needed to better understand the risk profile in this population and potential means of prevention.