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Dietary patterns associated with inflammatory biomarkers in a Northern German population



The aim of the present study was to derive overall and sex-specific dietary patterns associated with inflammatory biomarkers in a general population sample from Northern Germany.


The present analysis included 1158 participants (477 men, 681 women, mean age: 53.1 years; mean body mass index: 26.2 kg/m2) of the Food Chain Plus (FoCus) cohort in Kiel, Germany. Participants completed a semi-quantitative food frequency questionnaire and provided blood samples. Reduced rank regression with C-reactive protein (CRP) and Interleukin 6 (IL-6) as response variables was used to derive dietary patterns. After a mean follow-up of 1.7 years, a second blood sample was obtained in a subsample of 112 individuals. Multiple regression models were used to examine the association between dietary patterns at baseline and inflammatory biomarkers at follow-up.


The overall pattern characterised by high intakes of soft drinks, meat, potatoes and sauce, and low intakes of other cereals (except pasta/rice), wine, nuts, seeds, vegetarian dishes, vegetable oil, and fish was positively associated with CRP (OR 2.20; 95% CI 1.12, 4.35) and IL-6 (OR 3.14; 95% CI 1.26, 7.87) at follow-up. In men, the dietary pattern was higher in soft drinks, processed meat and low in cereals and plant-based fats. In women, the pattern was characterised by soft drinks, meat, vegetables and low in other cereals, wine, nuts, and seeds. The association between sex-specific patterns with inflammatory biomarkers was weaker for CRP.


We identified dietary patterns positively associated with established biomarkers of chronic low-grade inflammation.

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This research was supported by grants from the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (0315540B and 01EY1103). The Popgen 2.0 network (P2 N) is supported by the Medical Faculty of the University of Kiel. The funders had no role in the design, analysis or writing of this article.

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Correspondence to Janett Barbaresko.

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The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

The study was conducted according to the guidelines laid down in the Declaration of Helsinki and was approved by the ethic committee of the Medical Faculty of the University of Kiel (Germany).

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All participants had given their informed consent prior to participation.

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Barbaresko, J., Rienks, J., Oluwagbemigun, K. et al. Dietary patterns associated with inflammatory biomarkers in a Northern German population. Eur J Nutr 59, 1433–1441 (2020).

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  • Dietary pattern analysis
  • Reduced rank regression
  • Low-grade inflammation