Gaussian graphical models identified food intake networks and risk of type 2 diabetes, CVD, and cancer in the EPIC-Potsdam study

Eur J Nutr. 2019 Jun;58(4):1673-1686. doi: 10.1007/s00394-018-1714-1. Epub 2018 May 14.


Purpose: The aim of the study was to investigate the association between the previously identified Gaussian graphical models' (GGM) food intake networks and risk of major chronic diseases as well as intermediate biomarkers in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and nutrition (EPIC)-Potsdam cohort.

Methods: In this cohort analysis of 10,880 men and 13,340 women, adherence to the previously identified sex-specific GGM networks as well as principal component analysis identified patterns was investigated in relation to risk of major chronic diseases, using Cox-proportional hazard models. Associations of the patterns with intermediate biomarkers were cross-sectionally analyzed using multiple linear regressions.

Results: Results showed that higher adherence to the GGM Western-type pattern was associated with increased risk (Hazard Ratio: 1.55; 95% CI 1.13-2.15; P trend = 0.004) of type 2 diabetes (T2D) in women, whereas adherence to a high-fat dairy (HFD) pattern was associated with lower risk of T2D both in men (0.69; 95% CI 0.54-0.89; P trend < 0.001) and women (0.71; 95% CI: 0.53, 0.96; P trend = 0.09). Among PCA patterns, HFD pattern was associated with lower risk of T2D (0.74; 95% CI 0.58-0.95; P trend < 0.001) in men and bread and sausage pattern was associated with higher risk of T2D (1.79; 95% CI 1.29-2.48; P trend < 0.001) in women. Moreover, The GGM-HFD pattern was positively associated with HDL-C in men and inversely associated with C-reactive protein in women.

Conclusion: Overall, these results show that GGM-identified networks reflect dietary patterns, which could also be related to risk of chronic diseases.

Keywords: Chronic diseases; Dietary patterns; Gaussian graphical models; Networks; Type 2 diabetes; Western-type.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Biomarkers / blood
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / blood
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Cohort Studies
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / blood
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / epidemiology*
  • Diet / methods*
  • Europe
  • Female
  • Germany / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Models, Statistical*
  • Neoplasms / blood
  • Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Proportional Hazards Models
  • Prospective Studies
  • Risk Factors


  • Biomarkers