Dietary Patterns and Obesity in Chinese Adults: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis

Nutrients. 2022 Nov 20;14(22):4911. doi: 10.3390/nu14224911.


Certain dietary patterns are associated with an increased risk of obesity and its comorbidities. However, these associations vary across populations. The prevalence of obesity has been rising amid a drastic nutrition transition in China during the country's rapid economic growth. This systematic review and meta-analysis were conducted to summarize how dietary patterns are associated with obesity in the Chinese population. We searched for articles from 1 January 2000 to 1 February 2022 in PubMed, Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature (CINAHL), and Scopus that assessed the relationship between dietary patterns and obesity outcomes. Odds ratios (ORs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) were estimated using a random effects model. From the 2556 articles identified from the search, 23 articles were included in the analysis. We found that the traditional Chinese dietary pattern was associated with a lower risk of overweight/obesity (OR = 0.69, 95% CI: 0.57, 0.84, p < 0.001), whereas the Western dietary pattern was associated with a higher OR of overweight/obesity, but not reaching statistical significance (OR = 1.34, 95% CI: 0.98, 1.84, p = 0.07). There were inconsistent results for other dietary patterns, such as meat/animal protein and plant/vegetarian patterns. In conclusion, the traditional Chinese diet characterized by vegetables, rice, and meat was associated with a lower risk of obesity. The heterogeneity in characterizing dietary patterns contributes to the inconsistency of how dietary patterns are associated with obesity in the Chinese population.

Keywords: Chinese; body weight; dietary pattern; obesity.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Systematic Review
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Asian People
  • Diet, Western / adverse effects
  • Humans
  • Obesity* / epidemiology
  • Obesity* / etiology
  • Overweight* / epidemiology
  • Overweight* / etiology
  • Risk Factors

Grant support

T.T.H. was supported in part by a grant (U48DP006396) from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.