Various food patterns have been associated with weight change in adults, but it is unknown which combinations of nutrients may account for such observations. We investigated associations between main nutrient patterns and prospective weight change in adults.
This study includes 235,880 participants, 25–70 years old, recruited between 1992 and 2000 in 10 European countries. Intakes of 23 nutrients were estimated from country-specific validated dietary questionnaires using the harmonized EPIC Nutrient DataBase. Four nutrient patterns, explaining 67 % of the total variance of nutrient intakes, were previously identified from principal component analysis. Body weight was measured at recruitment and self-reported 5 years later. The relationship between nutrient patterns and annual weight change was examined separately for men and women using linear mixed models with random effect according to center controlling for confounders.
Mean weight gain was 460 g/year (SD 950) and 420 g/year (SD 940) for men and women, respectively. The annual differences in weight gain per one SD increase in the pattern scores were as follows: principal component (PC) 1, characterized by nutrients from plant food sources, was inversely associated with weight gain in men (−22 g/year; 95 % CI −33 to −10) and women (−18 g/year; 95 % CI −26 to −11). In contrast, PC4, characterized by protein, vitamin B2, phosphorus, and calcium, was associated with a weight gain of +41 g/year (95 % CI +2 to +80) and +88 g/year (95 % CI +36 to +140) in men and women, respectively. Associations with PC2, a pattern driven by many micro-nutrients, and with PC3, a pattern driven by vitamin D, were less consistent and/or non-significant.
We identified two main nutrient patterns that are associated with moderate but significant long-term differences in weight gain in adults.