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J Nutr. 2015 Aug;145(8):1884-91. doi: 10.3945/jn.114.207472. Epub 2015 Jul 1.

Comparable Dietary Patterns Describe Dietary Behavior across Ethnic Groups in the Netherlands, but Different Elements in the Diet Are Associated with Glycated Hemoglobin and Fasting Glucose Concentrations.

Author information

Departments of Public Health and
Saw Swee Hock School of Public Health and Departments of Medicine, Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine, National University of Singapore and National University Health System, Singapore;
Departments of Public Health and.
Cardiology, Academic Medical Center, University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, Netherlands;
Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics and EMGO+ Institute for Health and Care Research, VU Medical Centre, Amsterdam, Netherlands;
Division of Human Nutrition, Wageningen University, Wageningen, Netherlands;
National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM), Center for Nutrition, Prevention, and Health Services, Bilthoven, Netherlands; and.
Department of Molecular Epidemiology, German Institute of Human Nutrition Potsdam-Rehbruecke, Nuthetal, Germany.



Ethnic minority populations in Western societies suffer from a disproportionate burden of type 2 diabetes (T2D). Insight into the role of dietary patterns in T2D may assist public health nutrition efforts in addressing these health disparities.


We explored the association between dietary patterns and biomarkers of T2D in 5 ethnic groups living in Amsterdam, Netherlands.


A total of 3776 men and women aged 18-70 y of Dutch, South Asian Surinamese, African-Surinamese, Turkish, and Moroccan origin from the HELIUS (HEalthy LIfe in an Urban Setting) study were included. Diet was assessed by using a food-frequency questionnaire, and dietary patterns were derived separately per ethnic group. First, food group-based dietary patterns were derived by using principal components analysis and the association with glycated hemoglobin (HbA1c) and plasma fasting glucose was assessed by using multivariable linear regression. Second, biomarker-driven dietary patterns based on HbA1c and fasting glucose concentrations were derived by applying reduced rank regression.


Two comparable food group-based dietary patterns were identified in each ethnic group: a "meat and snack" pattern and a "vegetable" pattern. The meat-and-snack pattern derived within the Dutch origin population was significantly associated with HbA1c (β = 0.09; 95% CI: 0.00, 0.19) and fasting glucose (β = 0.18; 95% CI: 0.09, 0.26) concentrations. A biomarker-derived pattern characterized by red and processed meat was observed among Dutch-origin participants; however, among ethnic minority groups, this pattern was characterized by other foods including ethnicity-specific foods (e.g., roti, couscous).


Although similar food group dietary patterns were derived within 5 ethnic groups, the association of the meat-and-snack pattern with fasting glucose concentrations differed by ethnicity. Taken together with the finding of ethnic differences in biomarker-driven dietary patterns, our results imply that addressing T2D risk in multiethnic populations requires ethnicity-specific approaches.


diabetes; dietary patterns; ethnicity; principal component analysis; reduced rank regression analysis

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