C.C.B.LAM1, T.MINA2, E.RIBOLI3, J.LEE4, J.NGEOW5, E.S.LEE6, P.ELLIOT3, M.LOH2, J.CHAMBERS2
Khoo Teck Puat Hospital1, Nanyang Technological University2, Imperial College London3, Institute of Mental Health4, National Cancer Centre Singapore5, NHG Polyclinics6
Obesity is an increasing public health problem. National health statistics show that Malays and South Asians are more susceptible to obesity than Chinese. We hypothesize that specific dietary and physical activity factors contribute to this difference.
This study is based on cross-sectional data from the HELIOS study, a prospective cohort population study in Singapore. Clinical measurements were measured according to standardised protocols. Dietary intake was assessed using a locally developed Food Frequency Questionnaire (FFQ), and physical activity levels were estimated using the International Physical Activity Questionnaire (IPAQ). Multivariable regression models were used to determine the relationship between dietary and physical factors and adiposity.
Based on 5902 participants (76.8% Chinese, 8.2% Malays, 15.0% South Asians; Mean age: 51.4±11.8 years), Chinese had the highest mean protein and total fat intakes, and the lowest mean carbohydrate and sugar intakes; They also had the highest proportion who engaged in vigorous physical activities but had the lowest mean overall total energy expenditure and were the most sedentary (all P<0.001). Saturated fat intake, fibre intake and engagement in high levels of vigorous activities were independent predictors of adiposity, but ethnicity remained strongly predictive of adiposity with no significant reduction in the effect size (all P<0.01).
Low saturated fat intake, high fibre intake and engagement in high levels of vigorous physical activities are independently associated with lower adiposity. However, ethnicity continues to associate with adiposity very strongly. Therefore, the role of these dietary and physical activity factors underlying the different obesity prevalence is likely to be small.