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Am J Epidemiol. 2012 Sep 1;176(5):409-22. doi: 10.1093/aje/kws007. Epub 2012 Jul 11.

Nutritional risk factors for tuberculosis among adults in the United States, 1971-1992.

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Division of Tuberculosis Elimination, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, GA 30333, USA.


The risk of developing tuberculosis (TB) may be related to nutritional status. To determine the impact of nutritional status on TB incidence, the authors analyzed data from the First National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES I) Epidemiologic Follow-up Study (NHEFS). NHANES I collected information on a probability sample of the US population in 1971-1975. Adults were followed up in 1982-1992. Incident TB cases were ascertained through interviews, medical records, and death certificates. TB incidences were compared across different levels of nutritional status after controlling for potential confounding using proportional hazards regression appropriate to the complex sample design. TB incidence among adults with normal body mass index was 24.7 per 100,000 person-years (95% confidence interval (CI): 13.0, 36.3). In contrast, among persons who were underweight, overweight, and obese, estimated TB incidence rates were 260.2 (95% CI: 98.6, 421.8), 8.9 (95% CI: 2.2, 15.6), and 5.1 (95% CI: 0.0, 10.5) per 100,000 person-years, respectively. Adjusted hazard ratios were 12.43 (95% CI: 5.75, 26.95), 0.28 (95% CI: 0.13, 0.63), and 0.20 (95% CI: 0.07, 0.62), respectively, after controlling for demographic, socioeconomic, and medical characteristics. A low serum albumin level also increased the risk of TB, but low vitamin A, thiamine, riboflavin, and iron status did not. A population's nutritional profile is an important determinant of its TB incidence.

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