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Vegetable-rich food pattern is related to obesity in China



To investigate the association between a vegetable-rich food pattern and obesity among Chinese adults.


A food pattern rich in vegetables is associated with lower risk of obesity and non-communicable chronic disease in Western countries. A similar food pattern is found in the Chinese population but the cooking method is different. A cross-sectional household survey of 2849 men and women aged 20 years and over was undertaken in 2002 in Jiangsu Province (response rate, 89.0%). Food intake was assessed by food frequency questionnaire. Factor analysis was used to identify food patterns. Nutrient intake was measured by food weighing plus consecutive individual 3-day food records. Height, weight and waist circumference were measured.


The prevalence of general obesity (BMI 28 kg m−2) was 8.0% in men and 12.7% in women, central obesity was 19.5% (90 cm) and 38.2% (80 cm), respectively. A four-factor solution explained 28.5% of the total variance in food frequency intake. The vegetable-rich food pattern (whole grains, fruits and vegetables) was positively associated with vegetable oil and energy intake. Prevalence of obesity/central obesity increased across the quartiles of vegetable-rich food pattern. After adjusting for sociodemographic factors and four distinct food patterns, the vegetable-rich pattern was independently associated with obesity. Compared with the lowest quartile of vegetable-rich pattern, the highest quartile had higher risk of general obesity (men, prevalence ratio (PR): 1.82, 95% confidence interval (CI): 1.05–3.14; women, PR: 2.25, 95% CI: 1.45–3.49).


The vegetable-rich food pattern was associated with higher risk of obesity/central obesity in Chinese adults in both genders. This association can be linked to the high intake of energy due to generous use of oil for stir-frying the vegetables.

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We thank the participating Regional Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Jiangsu province, including the Nanjing, Xuzhou, Jiangyin, Taicang, Suining, Jurong, Sihong and Haimen Centres, for their support of the data collection. This work was supported by Jiangsu Provincial Health Bureau. Zumin Shi was supported by a fellowship from Newcastle Institute of Public Health—Hunter Medical Research Institute through the New South Wales Health Department Capacity Building and Infrastructure Grant.

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Correspondence to Z Shi.

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Shi, Z., Hu, X., Yuan, B. et al. Vegetable-rich food pattern is related to obesity in China. Int J Obes 32, 975–984 (2008).

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