Association between organic food consumption and metabolic syndrome: cross-sectional results from the NutriNet-Santé study
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Metabolic syndrome (MetS), a multicomponent condition, is a cardiovascular disease predictor. Although exposure to agricultural pesticides has been suggested as a potential contributor to the rising rates of obesity, type 2 diabetes, and other features of metabolic disorders, no studies have focused on the association between consumption of organic food (produced without synthetic pesticides) and MetS. We aimed to investigate the cross-sectional association between organic food consumption and MetS in French adults to determine whether it would be worth conducting further studies, particularly large prospective and randomised trials.
A total of 8174 participants from the NutriNet-Santé study who attended a clinical visit and completed an organic food frequency questionnaire were included in this cross-sectional analysis. We evaluated the association between the proportion of organic food in the diet (overall and by food group) and MetS using Poisson regression models while adjusting for potential confounders.
Higher organic food consumption was negatively associated with the prevalence of MetS: adjusted prevalence ratio was 0.69 (95% CI 0.61, 0.78) when comparing the third tertile of proportion of organic food in the diet with the first one (p value <0.0001). Higher consumption of organic plant-based foods was also related to a lower probability of having MetS. In addition, when stratifying by lifestyle factors (nutritional quality of the diet, smoking status, and physical activity), a significant negative association was detected in each subgroup (p values <0.05), except among smokers.
Our results showed that a higher organic food consumption was associated with a lower probability of having MetS. Additional prospective studies and randomised trials are required to ascertain the relationship between organic food consumption and metabolic disorders.
KeywordsMetabolic syndrome Metabolic traits Organic food consumption Dietary pattern
Body mass index
National commission on informatics and liberty
Diastolic blood pressure
European food safety authority
French National Nutrition and Health Survey
Institutional Review Board of the French Institute for Health and Medical Research
French National Institute of Statistics and Economic Studies
International Physical Activity Questionnaire
Modified Programme National Nutrition Guideline Score
Organic Food Frequency Questionnaire
Persistent organic pollutants
Polyunsaturated fatty acids
Systolic blood pressure
We thank all the people who helped carry out the NutriNet-Santé study and all dedicated and conscientious volunteers. We especially thank Younes Esseddik, Paul Flanzy, Nathalie Arnault, Fabien Szabo, Laurent Bourhis, and Cédric Agaesse.
SH, PG, DL, and EKG conceived and designed research; JB performed the statistical analysis and wrote the article; JB, HL, SA, CJ, BA, SH, MT, DL, PG, and EKG were involved in revising the work critically for important intellectual content; and JB had primary responsibility for final content. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.
Compliance with ethical standards
Conflict of interest
None of the authors declares any conflicts of interest.
The BioNutriNet project was supported by the French National Research Agency (Agence Nationale de la Recherche) in the context of the 2013 Programme de Recherche Systèmes Alimentaires Durables (ANR-13-ALID-0001). The NutriNet-Santé cohort study is funded by the following public institutions: Ministère de la Santé, Santé Publique France, Institut National de la Santé et de la Recherche Médicale (INSERM), Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique (INRA), Conservatoire National des Arts et Métiers (CNAM), and Paris 13 University. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.
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