The role of diet in the origin of metabolic syndrome (MetSyn) is not well understood; thus, we sought to evaluate the relationship between incident MetSyn and dietary intake using prospective data from 9514 participants (age, 45 to 64 years) enrolled in the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) study.
Dietary intake was assessed at baseline via a 66-item food frequency questionnaire. We used principal-components analysis to derive "Western" and "prudent" dietary patterns from 32 food groups and evaluated 10 food groups used in previous studies of the ARIC cohort. MetSyn was defined by American Heart Association guidelines. Proportional-hazards regression was used. Over 9 years of follow-up, 3782 incident cases of MetSyn were identified. After adjustment for demographic factors, smoking, physical activity, and energy intake, consumption of a Western dietary pattern (P(trend)=0.03) was adversely associated with incident MetSyn. After further adjustment for intake of meat, dairy, fruits and vegetables, refined grains, and whole grains, analysis of individual food groups revealed that meat (P(trend)<0.001), fried foods (P(trend)=0.02), and diet soda (P(trend)=< 0.001) also were adversely associated with incident MetSyn, whereas dairy consumption (P(trend)=0.006) was beneficial. No associations were observed between incident MetSyn and a prudent dietary pattern or intakes of whole grains, refined grains, fruits and vegetables, nuts, coffee, or sweetened beverages.
These prospective findings suggest that consumption of a Western dietary pattern, meat, and fried foods promotes the incidence of MetSyn, whereas dairy consumption provides some protection. The diet soda association was not hypothesized and deserves further study.