Dietary fiber is implicated as a risk factor for diverticulitis. Analyses of dietary patterns may provide information on risk beyond those of individual foods or nutrients. We examined whether major dietary patterns are associated with risk of incident diverticulitis.
We performed a prospective cohort study of 46,295 men who were free of diverticulitis and known diverticulosis in 1986 (baseline) using data from the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study. Each study participant completed a detailed medical and dietary questionnaire at baseline. We sent supplemental questionnaires to men reporting incident diverticulitis on biennial follow-up questionnaires. We assessed diet every 4 years using a validated food frequency questionnaire. Western (high in red meat, refined grains, and high-fat dairy) and prudent (high in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains) dietary patterns were identified using principal component analysis. Follow-up time accrued from the date of return of the baseline questionnaire in 1986 until a diagnosis of diverticulitis, diverticulosis or diverticular bleeding; death; or December 31, 2012. The primary end point was incident diverticulitis.
During 894,468 person years of follow-up, we identified 1063 incident cases of diverticulitis. After adjustment for other risk factors, men in the highest quintile of Western dietary pattern score had a multivariate hazard ratio of 1.55 (95% CI, 1.20-1.99) for diverticulitis compared to men in the lowest quintile. High vs low prudent scores were associated with decreased risk of diverticulitis (multivariate hazard ratio, 0.74; 95% CI, 0.60-0.91). The association between dietary patterns and diverticulitis was predominantly attributable to intake of fiber and red meat.
In a prospective cohort study of 46,295 men, a Western dietary pattern was associated with increased risk of diverticulitis, and a prudent pattern was associated with decreased risk. These data can guide dietary interventions for the prevention of diverticulitis.