British Journal of Nutrition

Research Article

Food and drinking patterns as predictors of 6-year BMI-adjusted changes in waist circumference

Jytte Halkjæra1a2a3 c1, Thorkild IA Sørensena1, Anne Tjønnelanda4, Per Togoa1a2, Claus Holsta1 and Berit L Heitmanna1a2

a1 Danish Epidemiology Science Centre at the Institute of Preventive Medicine Copenhagen University Hospital, Copenhagen, Denmark

a2 Research Unit for Dietary Studies at the Institute of Preventive Medicine, Copenhagen University Hospital, Copenhagen, Denmark

a3 Research Centre for Prevention and Health, Glostrup University Hospital, Glostrup, Denmark

a4 Institute of Cancer Epidemiology, Danish Cancer Society, Copenhagen, Denmark


Few studies have investigated the prospective associations between diet or drinking patterns and abdominal obesity; we therefore investigated whether food and beverage groups or patterns predicted 6-year changes in waist circumference (WC) and whether these associations were independent of concurrent changes in BMI as a measure of general obesity. The subjects were 2300 middle-aged men and women with repeated measurements of dietary intake, BMI and WC from 1982 to 1993. Intakes from ten food groups and from coffee, tea, wine, beer and spirits were assessed; gender-specific food factors were identified by factor analyses. Multiple linear regression analyses were done before and after adjustment for concurrent changes in BMI. A high intake of potatoes seemed to prevent gain in WC for men, while a high intake of refined bread was associated with gain in WC for women. The association persisted for refined bread, but not for potatoes, after adjustment for concurrent BMI changes. Among women, but not men, high intakes of beer and spirits were associated with gain in WC in both models. A high intake of coffee for women and moderate to high intake of tea for men were associated with gain in WC, but the associations were weakened, especially for women, after adjustment for BMI changes. None of the food factors was associated with WC changes. Based on the present study, we conclude that very few food items and no food patterns seem to predict changes in WC, whereas high intakes of beer and spirits among women, and moderate to high tea intake among men, may promote gain in WC.

(Received January 07 2004)

(Revised June 18 2004)

(Accepted June 24 2004)


c1 *Corresponding author: Dr Jytte Halkjær, fax +45 33324240, email