Research Update: Dietary Pattern and Its Association with the Prevalence of Obesity and Related Cardiometabolic Risk Factors among Chinese Children

A Western dietary pattern was found to be associated with a higher prevalence of obesity and increased levels of plasma glucose, LDL-cholesterol and triglycerides among primary school children in China.

This cross-sectional study, published in the journal PLOS One (August 2012), assessed the food intake of over 5,200 children from 5 provincial capital cities in China. Anthropometric measurements (weight, height, waist circumference) were also obtained together with blood pressure, blood glucose and blood lipid profiles.


The authors analysed the children’s diet and derived three dietary patterns according to the characteristics of food intake, namely the healthy diet, transitive diet and the Western diet. The Western dietary pattern is characterised by a high intake of red meats, eggs and refined carbohydrates. Compared to those with the healthy dietary pattern, children with the Western dietary pattern had significantly:

  • higher level of fasting glucose
  • higher LDL-cholesterol level
  • lower HDL-cholesterol level
  • higher triglyceride level
  • higher blood pressure (systolic and diastolic BP)

The prevalence of obesity and abdominal obesity were most prevalent among children with the Western dietary pattern. After adjustments for multiple confounding factors, children with the Western dietary pattern were still found to have significantly higher odds of being obese and having abdominal obesity (OR=1.80 and 1.71 respectively).

Based on these findings, the authors emphasised the urgency of guiding children to adopt healthier eating behaviours – the prevalence of childhood obesity is on the rise in China, with approximately 12 million Chinese children currently overweight or obese.


Last updated on 30 Nov 2012

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