The dietary inflammatory index, obesity, type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular risk factors and diseases

Obes Rev. 2022 Jan;23(1):e13349. doi: 10.1111/obr.13349. Epub 2021 Oct 27.


An unhealthy diet is a recognized risk factor in the pathophysiology of numerous chronic noncommunicable diseases (NCD), including obesity, type 2 diabetes (T2DM), and cardiovascular diseases (CVD). This is, at least in part, due to unhealthy diets causing chronic low-grade inflammation in the gut and systemically. To characterize the inflammatory potential of diet, we developed the Dietary Inflammatory Index (DII®). Following this development, around 500 papers have been published, which examined the association between the DII, energy-adjusted DII (E-DII™), and the children's DII (C-DII™) and many chronic NCDs including obesity and cardiometabolic diseases. Although a previous narrative review published in 2019 briefly summarized the evidence in this area, there was a significant increase in papers on this topic since 2020. Therefore, the purpose of this narrative review is to provide an in-depth updated review by including all papers until July 2021 on DII and its relationship with obesity, T2DM, and CVD. Furthermore, we aim to identify potential gaps in the literature and provide future directions for research. Most studies found that DII was associated with an increased risk of obesity, T2DM, and CVD with some relationships being sex-specific. However, we identified the paucity of papers describing associations between dietary inflammation and T2DM and its risk factors. Few studies used gold-standard measures of cardiometabolic risk factors. We also identified the lack of interventional studies designed to change the inflammatory potential of diets and study its effect on cardiometabolic risk factors and diseases. We recommend that such interventional studies are needed to assess if changes in DII, representing the inflammatory potential of diet, independently of changes in body composition can modulate cardiometabolic risk factors and diseases.

Keywords: cardiovascular diseases; diabetes; dietary inflammatory index; obesity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cardiovascular Diseases* / complications
  • Child
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2* / complications
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2* / etiology
  • Diet / adverse effects
  • Female
  • Heart Disease Risk Factors
  • Humans
  • Inflammation / etiology
  • Male
  • Obesity / complications
  • Risk Factors