Objective: To investigate the association of macronutrient intake with all cause mortality and cardiovascular disease (CVD), and the implications for dietary advice.
Design: Prospective population based study.
Setting: UK Biobank.
Participants: 195 658 of the 502 536 participants in UK Biobank completed at least one dietary questionnaire and were included in the analyses. Diet was assessed using Oxford WebQ, a web based 24 hour recall questionnaire, and nutrient intakes were estimated using standard methodology. Cox proportional models with penalised cubic splines were used to study non-linear associations.
Main outcome measures: All cause mortality and incidence of CVD.
Results: 4780 (2.4%) participants died over a mean 10.6 (range 9.4-13.9) years of follow-up, and 948 (0.5%) and 9776 (5.0%) experienced fatal and non-fatal CVD events, respectively, over a mean 9.7 (range 8.5-13.0) years of follow-up. Non-linear associations were found for many macronutrients. Carbohydrate intake showed a non-linear association with mortality; no association at 20-50% of total energy intake but a positive association at 50-70% of energy intake (3.14 v 2.75 per 1000 person years, average hazard ratio 1.14, 95% confidence interval 1.03 to 1.28 (60-70% v 50% of energy)). A similar pattern was observed for sugar but not for starch or fibre. A higher intake of monounsaturated fat (2.94 v 3.50 per 1000 person years, average hazard ratio 0.58, 0.51 to 0.66 (20-25% v 5% of energy)) and lower intake of polyunsaturated fat (2.66 v 3.04 per 1000 person years, 0.78, 0.75 to 0.81 (5-7% v 12% of energy)) and saturated fat (2.66 v 3.59 per 1000 person years, 0.67, 0.62 to 0.73 (5-10% v 20% of energy)) were associated with a lower risk of mortality. A dietary risk matrix was developed to illustrate how dietary advice can be given based on current intake.
Conclusion: Many associations between macronutrient intake and health outcomes are non-linear. Thus dietary advice could be tailored to current intake. Dietary guidelines on macronutrients (eg, carbohydrate) should also take account of differential associations of its components (eg, sugar and starch).
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