Are prevailing patterns of diet behavior in a population, assessed using factor or cluster analysis, related to body weight or risk of obesity?
ConclusionLimited and inconsistent evidence from epidemiological studies examining dietary patterns derived using factor or cluster analysis in adults found that consumption of a dietary pattern characterized by vegetables, fruits, whole grains and reduced-fat dairy products tends to be associated with more favorable body weight status over time than consumption of a dietary pattern characterized by red meat, processed meats, sugar-sweetened foods and drinks and refined grains.
GradeIII – Limited
- Cluster and factor analyses are data-driven approaches that describe the dietary patterns consumed by the study population. Variability in the studies included in this review, including populations considered, dietary assessment methods used, the number and type of food groupings included in the analyses and the statistical techniques employed, made comparisons among studies challenging.
- The number of patterns identified in the studies ranged from two to six and some similarities emerged among them. The patterns were not consistently defined by specific foods, but rather by a range of foods with overlap among the patterns. What differentiated the patterns was the amount or frequency of each food consumed.
- Dietary patterns that emerged in factor or cluster analysis that were associated with lower risk of obesity were characterized by the presence of vegetables, fruit, whole grains and reduced-fat dairy. In adults, results pointed toward a more favorable weight status, lower weight or WC gain and lower BMI over time.
- Dietary patterns derived from factor or cluster analysis associated with a higher risk of obesity were characterized by the presence of red meat and processed meats, sugar-sweetened foods and drinks and refined grains. Results related to consumption of these patterns pointed toward increased body weight and WC measures over time.
- Ethnicity and socioeconomic status were often not reported or included in analyses. Insufficient evidence was available to support conclusions related to children and adolescents.
- Insufficient evidence was available in population subgroups to examine the relationship between dietary patterns derived using factor and cluster analyses and body weight status. Future studies using this methodology should examine variables such as ethnicity, socioeconomic status, sex, baseline weight status and age. In addition, it is important to incorporate environmental and behavioral factors, such as physical activity, non-leisure physical activity, eating practices (eating out, cooking at home), indulgence over the weekend, among others, as potential confounders. These variables may be moderators that, in the long term, will define the association between a particular pattern and weight status. There is a need for more research into specific ethnic groups and how cultural practices may influence dietary patterns and their repercussions for body weight.
- Research is needed to further examine if various dietary patterns influence body weight status differently among participants who are normal weight, overweight, or obese. There is some indication that obese vs. normal-weight individuals respond differently to changes of food patterns on body weight measures. Research in this area may help uncover better approaches to body weight management practices.
- There is a need to examine the most common unhealthy or western pattern components, variations and amounts of food consumed by those who have such a diet. Rationale: If a pre-existing pattern is found to be detrimental to health, there is an impetus for dietary pattern modification.
What is the evidence that supports this conclusion? For more information, click on the Evidence Summary link below.
Search Plan and Results
What were the search parameters and selection criteria used to identify literature to answer this question? For more information, click on the Search Plan and Results link below.