British Journal of Nutrition

Full Papers

Dietary Surveys and Nutritional Epidemiology

Food patterns associated with blood lipids are predictive of coronary heart disease: the Whitehall II study

Sarah A. McNaughtona1 c1, Gita D. Mishraa2 and Eric J. Brunnera2

a1 School of Exercise and Nutrition Sciences, Deakin University, 221 Burwood Highway, Melbourne 3125, Australia

a2 Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, University College London, 1–19 Torrington Place, London WC1E 6BT, UK


Analysis of the epidemiological effects of overall dietary patterns offers an alternative approach to the investigation of the role of diet in CHD. We analysed the role of blood lipid-related dietary patterns using a two-step method to confirm the prospective association of dietary pattern with incident CHD. Analysis is based on 7314 participants of the Whitehall II study. Dietary intake was measured using a 127-item FFQ. Reduced rank regression (RRR) was used to derive dietary pattern scores using baseline serum total and HDL-cholesterol, and TAG levels as dependent variables. Cox proportional hazard regression was used to confirm the association between dietary patterns and incident CHD (n 243) over 15 years of follow-up. Increased CHD risk (hazard ratio (HR) for top quartile: 2·01 (95 % CI 1·41, 2·85) adjusted for age, sex, ethnicity and energy misreporting) was observed with a diet characterised by high consumption of white bread, fried potatoes, sugar in tea and coffee, burgers and sausages, soft drinks, and low consumption of French dressing and vegetables. The diet–CHD relationship was attenuated after adjustment for employment grade and health behaviours (HR for top quartile: 1·81; 95 % CI 1·26, 2·62), and further adjustment for blood pressure and BMI (HR for top quartile: 1·57; 95 % CI 1·08, 2·27). Dietary patterns are associated with serum lipids and predict CHD risk after adjustment for confounders. RRR identifies dietary patterns using prior knowledge and focuses on the pathways through which diet may influence disease. The present study adds to the evidence that diet is an important risk factor for CHD.

(Received August 01 2008)

(Revised December 12 2008)

(Accepted December 23 2008)

(Online publication March 30 2009)


c1 Corresponding author: Dr Sarah A. McNaughton, fax +61 3 9244 6017, email


Abbreviations: EE, energy expenditure; EI, energy intake; RRR, reduced rank regression