Sweet Snacks Are Positively and Fruits and Vegetables Are Negatively Associated with Visceral or Liver Fat Content in Middle-Aged Men and Women

Esther van Eekelen, Anouk Geelen, Marjan Alssema, Hildo J. Lamb, Albert de Roos, Frits R. Rosendaal, Rencrossed de Mutsert

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Visceral adipose tissue (VAT) and hepatic triglyceride content (HTGC) are major risk factors for cardiometabolic diseases. Objective: We aimed to investigate the association of dietary intake of the main food groups with VAT and HTGC in middle-aged men and women. Methods: We used data from the Netherlands Epidemiology of Obesity study, a population-based study including 6671 participants aged 45-65 y at baseline. In this cross-sectional analysis, VAT and HTGC were assessed by magnetic resonance imaging and spectroscopy, respectively, as the primary outcomes. Habitual intake of main food groups (dairy, meat, fish, fruits and vegetables, sweet snacks, and fats and oils) was estimated through the use of a food-frequency questionnaire. We examined associations of intake of different food groups with VAT and HTGC by linear regression analysis stratified by sex and adjusted for age, smoking, education, ethnicity, physical activity, basal metabolic rate, energy-restricted diet, menopausal state, and total energy intake. Results: In women, a 100-g/d higher intake of dairy was associated with 2.0 cm2 less VAT (95% CI: -3.4, -0.7 cm2) and a 0.95-fold lower HTGC (95% CI: 0.90-, 0.99-fold). Moreover, a 100-g/d higher intake of fruit and vegetables was associated with 1.6 cm2 less VAT (95% CI: -2.9, -0.2 cm2) in women. Fruit and vegetables were negatively associated (0.95; 95% CI: 0.91, 1.00) with HTGC, and sweet snacks were positively associated (1.29; 95% CI: 1.03, 1.63). Patterns were weaker but similar in men. Fish intake was not associated with VAT or HTGC and plant-based fat and oil intake were only associated with VAT after adjustment for total body fat. Conclusions: Despite some variation in the strength of the associations between men and women, dietary intake of sweet snacks was positively associated with HTGC, and fruit and vegetable intake were negatively associated with visceral and liver fat content. Prospective studies are needed to confirm these results. The Netherlands Epidemiology of Obesity study is registered at clinicaltrials.gov with identifier NCT03410316. J Nutr 2019;149:304-313.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)304-313
JournalJournal of Nutrition
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2019

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