European Journal of Nutrition

, Volume 55, Issue 2, pp 505–518 | Cite as

Nutrient patterns and their relation to general and abdominal obesity in Iranian adults: findings from the SEPAHAN study

  • Amin Salehi-Abargouei
  • Ahmad EsmaillzadehEmail author
  • Leila Azadbakht
  • Ammar Hassanzadeh Keshteli
  • Awat Feizi
  • Christine Feinle-Bisset
  • Peyman Adibi
Original Contribution



Few studies have linked major dietary nutrient patterns to chronic diseases. Despite the growing evidence of associations between dietary patterns and obesity, we are aware of no study that examined the association between patterns of nutrient intake and obesity.


To identify major nutrient patterns in Iranian adults and investigate their association with general and abdominal obesity.


In this cross-sectional study that was conducted under the framework of the Study on the Epidemiology of Psychological Alimentary Health and Nutrition (SEPAHAN), dietary data were collected using a validated dish-based 106-item semi-quantitative food frequency questionnaire in 8691 subjects aged 18–55 years. Complete data of 6724 and 5203 adults were available for general and abdominal obesity, respectively. Data on anthropometric measures were collected through a self-administered questionnaire. General obesity was defined as body mass index ≥ 30 kg/m2, and abdominal obesity as waist circumference > 102 cm for men and >88 cm for women. Daily intakes of 38 nutrients and bioactive compounds were calculated for each participant. Factor analysis, followed by a varimax rotation, was applied to derive major nutrient patterns.


Three major nutrient patterns were identified: (1) The first pattern was high in fatty acids (including saturated, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids), cholesterol, vitamin B12, vitamin E, zinc, choline, protein, pyridoxine, phosphorus and pantothenic acid; (2) the second pattern was high in thiamine, betaine, starch, folate, iron, selenium, niacin, calcium, and manganese; and (3) the third pattern was high in glucose, fructose, sucrose, vitamin C, potassium, total dietary fiber, copper and vitamin K. Men in the highest quintile of the second pattern were less likely to be generally obese in the fully adjusted model [odds ratio (OR) 0.39, 95 % confidence interval (CI) 0.20–0.76]. After adjustment for potential confounders, a significant positive association was observed between the third pattern and general obesity among men (OR 1.77, 95 % CI 1.04–3.04), but not women (OR 1.18, 95 % CI 0.74–1.88). No overall association was seen between patterns of nutrient intake and abdominal obesity in both genders.


Major nutrient patterns were significantly associated with general, but not abdominal obesity among male participants of the SEPAHAN study. Further studies in other populations, along with future prospective studies, are required to confirm these findings.


Anthropometry Obesity Diet Nutrient intake Factor analysis Fat accumulation 



Nutrient pattern


Body mass index


Waist circumference


Cardiovascular diseases


Study on the epidemiology of psychological alimentary health and nutrition


Dish-based Semi-quantitative Food Frequency Questionnaire


United States Department of Agriculture


Saturated fatty acids


Monounsaturated fatty acids


Polyunsaturated fatty acids


Trans fatty acids


National Cholesterol Education Program


General Practice Physical Activity Questionnaire


Analysis of covariance


Physical activity index



The authors are thankful to participants of SEPAHAN project and authorities of Isfahan University of Medical Sciences for their excellent cooperation. We also appreciate the research council of Food Security Research Center for funding this project.

Conflict of interest

Authors had no personal or financial conflicts of interest to declare.

Supplementary material

394_2015_867_MOESM1_ESM.docx (18 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 17 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Amin Salehi-Abargouei
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  • Ahmad Esmaillzadeh
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Leila Azadbakht
    • 1
    • 2
  • Ammar Hassanzadeh Keshteli
    • 4
  • Awat Feizi
    • 5
    • 7
  • Christine Feinle-Bisset
    • 6
  • Peyman Adibi
    • 7
    • 8
  1. 1.Food Security Research CenterIsfahan University of Medical SciencesIsfahanIran
  2. 2.Department of Community Nutrition, School of Nutrition and Food ScienceIsfahan University of Medical SciencesIsfahanIran
  3. 3.Nutrition and Food Security Research CenterShahid Sadoughi University of Medical SciencesYazdIran
  4. 4.Department of MedicineUniversity of AlbertaEdmontonCanada
  5. 5.Department of Biostatistics and Epidemiology, School of Public HealthIsfahan University of Medical SciencesIsfahanIran
  6. 6.Centre of Research Excellence in Translating Nutritional Science to Good HealthUniversity of Adelaide Discipline of MedicineAdelaideAustralia
  7. 7.Integrative Functional Gastroenterology Research CenterIsfahan University of Medical SciencesIsfahanIran
  8. 8.Department of Internal Medicine, School of MedicineIsfahan University of Medical SciencesIsfahanIran

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