Generalizability of a Diabetes-Associated Country-Specific Exploratory Dietary Pattern Is Feasible across European Populations

Franziska Jannasch*, Janine Kröger, Claudia Agnoli, Aurelio Barricarte, Heiner Boeing, Valerie Cayssials, Sandra Colorado-Yohar, Christina C. Dahm, Courtney Dow, Guy Fagherazzi, Paul W. Franks, Heinz Freisling, Marc J. Gunter, Nicola D. Kerrison, Timothy J. Key, Kay Tee Khaw, Tilman Kühn, Cecilie Kyro, Francesca Romana Mancini, Olatz MokoroaPeter Nilsson, Kim Overvad, Domenico Palli, Salvatore Panico, Jose Ramón Quirós García, Olov Rolandsson, Carlotta Sacerdote, Mariá José Sánchez, Mohammad Sediq Sahrai, Ruth Schübel, Ivonne Sluijs, Annemieke M.W. Spijkerman, Anne Tjonneland, Tammy Y.N. Tong, Rosario Tumino, Elio Riboli, Claudia Langenberg, Stephen J. Sharp, Nita G. Forouhi, Matthias B. Schulze, Nicholas J. Wareham

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Population-specificity of exploratory dietary patterns limits their generalizability in investigations with type 2 diabetes incidence. Objective: The aim of this study was to derive country-specific exploratory dietary patterns, investigate their association with type 2 diabetes incidence, and replicate diabetes-associated dietary patterns in other countries. Methods: Dietary intake data were used, assessed by country-specific questionnaires at baseline of 11,183 incident diabetes cases and 14,694 subcohort members (mean age 52.9 y) from 8 countries, nested within the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition study (mean follow-up time 6.9 y). Exploratory dietary patterns were derived by principal component analysis. HRs for incident type 2 diabetes were calculated by Prentice-weighted Cox proportional hazard regression models. Diabetes-associated dietary patterns were simplified or replicated to be applicable in other countries. A meta-analysis across all countries evaluated the generalizability of the diabetes-association. Results: Two dietary patterns per country/UK-center, of which overall 3 dietary patterns were diabetes-associated, were identified. A risk-lowering French dietary pattern was not confirmed across other countries: pooled HRFrance per 1 SD: 1.00; 95% CI: 0.90, 1.10. Risk-increasing dietary patterns, derived in Spain and UK-Norfolk, were confirmed, but only the latter statistically significantly: HRSpain: 1.09; 95% CI: 0.97, 1.22 and HRUK-Norfolk: 1.12; 95% CI: 1.04, 1.20. Respectively, this dietary pattern was characterized by relatively high intakes of potatoes, processed meat, vegetable oils, sugar, cake and cookies, and tea. Conclusions: Only few country/center-specific dietary patterns (3 of 18) were statistically significantly associated with diabetes incidence in this multicountry European study population. One pattern, whose association with diabetes was confirmed across other countries, showed overlaps in the food groups potatoes and processed meat with identified diabetes-associated dietary patterns from other studies. The study demonstrates that replication of associations of exploratory patterns with health outcomes is feasible and a necessary step to overcome population-specificity in associations from such analyses.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1047-1055
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Nutrition
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • diet-disease association
  • dietary patterns
  • meta-analysis
  • principal component analysis
  • replication
  • type 2 diabetes mellitus


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