Validity of dietary questionnaires in Sri Lankan adults and the association of dietary intake with obesity

Mallika Arachchige, Ranil Jayawardena (2013) Validity of dietary questionnaires in Sri Lankan adults and the association of dietary intake with obesity. PhD by Publication, Queensland University of Technology.


Traditionally, infectious diseases and under-nutrition have been considered major health problems in Sri Lanka with little attention paid to obesity and associated non-communicable diseases (NCDs). However, the recent Sri Lanka Diabetes and Cardiovascular Study (SLDCS) reported the epidemic level of obesity, diabetes and metabolic syndrome. Moreover, obesity-associated NCDs is the leading cause of death in Sri Lanka and there is an exponential increase in hospitalization due to NCDs adversely affecting the development of the country. Despite Sri Lanka having a very high prevalence of NCDs and associated mortality, little is known about the causative factors for this burden. It is widely believed that the global NCD epidemic is associated with recent lifestyle changes, especially dietary factors. In the absence of sufficient data on dietary habits in Sri Lanka, successful interventions to manage these serious health issues would not be possible. In view of the current situation the dietary survey was undertaken to assess the intakes of energy, macro-nutrients and selected other nutrients with respect to socio demographic characteristics and the nutritional status of Sri Lankan adults especially focusing on obesity. Another aim of this study was to develop and validate a culturally specific food frequency questionnaire (FFQ) to assess dietary risk factors of NCDs in Sri Lankan adults.

Data were collected from a subset of the national SLDCS using a multi-stage, stratified, random sampling procedure (n=500). However, data collection in the SLDCS was affected by the prevailing civil war which resulted in no data being collected from Northern and Eastern provinces. To obtain a nationally representative sample, additional subjects (n=100) were later recruited from the two provinces using similar selection criteria. Ethical Approval for this study was obtained from the Ethical Review Committee, Faculty of Medicine, University of Colombo, Sri Lanka and informed consent was obtained from the subjects before data were collected.

Dietary data were obtained using the 24-h Dietary Recall (24HDR) method. Subjects were asked to recall all foods and beverages, consumed over the previous 24-hour period. Respondents were probed for the types of foods and food preparation methods. For the FFQ validation study, a 7-day weight diet record (7-d WDR) was used as the reference method. All foods recorded in the 24 HDR were converted into grams and then intake of energy and nutrients were analysed using NutriSurvey 2007 (EBISpro, Germany) which was modified for Sri Lankan food recipes. Socio-demographic details and body weight perception were collected from interviewer-administrated questionnaire. BMI was calculated and overweight (BMI ≥23 kg.m-2), obesity (BMI ≥25 kg.m-2) and abdominal obesity (Men: WC ≥ 90 cm; Women: WC ≥ 80 cm) were categorized according to Asia-pacific anthropometric cut-offs. The SPSS v. 16 for Windows and Minitab v10 were used for statistical analysis purposes.

From a total of 600 eligible subjects, 491 (81.8%) participated of whom 34.5% (n=169) were males. Subjects were well distributed among different socio-economic parameters. A total of 312 different food items were recorded and nutritionists grouped similar food items which resulted in a total of 178 items. After performing step-wise multiple regression, 93 foods explained 90% of the variance for total energy intake, carbohydrates, protein, total fat and dietary fibre. Finally, 90 food items and 12 photographs were selected. Seventy-seven subjects completed (response rate = 65%) the FFQ and 7-day WDR. Estimated mean energy intake (SD) from FFQ (1794±398 kcal) and 7DWR (1698±333 kcal, P<0.001) was significantly different due to a significant overestimation of carbohydrate (~10 g/d, P<0.001) and to some extent fat (~5 g/d, NS). Significant positive correlations were found between the FFQ and 7DWR for energy (r = 0.39), carbohydrate (r = 0.47), protein (r = 0.26), fat (r =0.17) and dietary fiber (r = 0.32). Bland-Altman graphs indicated fairly good agreement between methods with no relationship between bias and average intake of each nutrient examined.

The findings from the nutrition survey showed on average, Sri Lankan adults consumed over 14 portions of starch/d; moreover, males consumed 5 more portions of cereal than females. Sri Lankan adults consumed on average 3.56 portions of added sugars/d. Moreover, mean daily intake of fruit (0.43) and vegetable (1.73) portions was well below minimum dietary recommendations (fruits 2 portions/d; vegetables 3 portions/d). The total fruit and vegetable intake was 2.16 portions/d. Daily consumption of meat or alternatives was 1.75 portions and the sum of meat and pulses was 2.78 portions/d. Starchy foods were consumed by all participants and over 88% met the minimum daily recommendations. Importantly, nearly 70% of adults exceeded the maximum daily recommendation for starch (11portions/d) and a considerable proportion consumed larger numbers of starch servings daily, particularly men. More than 12% of men consumed over 25 starch servings/d. In contrast to their starch consumption, participants reported very low intakes of other food groups. Only 11.6%, 2.1% and 3.5% of adults consumed the minimum daily recommended servings of vegetables, fruits, and fruits and vegetables combined, respectively. Six out of ten adult Sri Lankans sampled did not consume any fruits. Milk and dairy consumption was extremely low; over a third of the population did not consume any dairy products and less than 1% of adults consumed 2 portions of dairy/d. A quarter of Sri Lankans did not report consumption of meat and pulses. Regarding protein consumption, 36.2% attained the minimum Sri Lankan recommendation for protein; and significantly more men than women achieved the recommendation of ≥3 servings of meat or alternatives daily (men 42.6%, women 32.8%; P<0.05).

Over 70% of energy was derived from carbohydrates (Male:72.8±6.4%, Female:73.9±6.7%), followed by fat (Male:19.9±6.1%, Female:18.5±5.7%) and proteins (Male:10.6±2.1%, Female:10.9±5.6%). The average intake of dietary fiber was 21.3 g/day and 16.3 g/day for males and females, respectively. There was a significant difference in nutritional intake related to ethnicities, areas of residence, education levels and BMI categories. Similarly, dietary diversity was significantly associated with several socio-economic parameters among Sri Lankan adults. Adults with BMI ≥25 kg.m-2 and abdominally obese Sri Lankan adults had the highest diet diversity values.

Age-adjusted prevalence (95% confidence interval) of overweight, obesity, and abdominal obesity among Sri Lankan adults were 17.1% (13.8-20.7), 28.8% (24.8-33.1), and 30.8% (26.8-35.2), respectively. Men, compared with women, were less overweight, 14.2% (9.4-20.5) versus 18.5% (14.4-23.3), P = 0.03, less obese, 21.0% (14.9-27.7) versus 32.7% (27.6-38.2), P < .05; and less abdominally obese, 11.9% (7.4-17.8) versus 40.6% (35.1-46.2), P < .05. Although, prevalence of obesity has reached to epidemic level body weight misperception was common among Sri Lankan adults. Two-thirds of overweight males and 44.7% of females considered themselves as in "about right weight". Over one third of both male and female obese subjects perceived themselves as "about right weight" or "underweight". Nearly 32% of centrally obese men and women perceived that their waist circumference is about right. People who perceived overweight or very overweight (n = 154) only 63.6% tried to lose their body weight (n = 98), and quarter of adults seek advices from professionals (n = 39).

A number of important conclusions can be drawn from this research project. Firstly, the newly developed FFQ is an acceptable tool for assessing the nutrient intake of Sri Lankans and will assist proper categorization of individuals by dietary exposure. Secondly, a substantial proportion of the Sri Lankan population does not consume a varied and balanced diet, which is suggestive of a close association between the nutrition-related NCDs in the country and unhealthy eating habits. Moreover, dietary diversity is positively associated with several socio-demographic characteristics and obesity among Sri Lankan adults. Lastly, although obesity is a major health issue among Sri Lankan adults, body weight misperception was common among underweight, healthy weight, overweight, and obese adults in Sri Lanka. Over 2/3 of overweight and 1/3 of obese Sri Lankan adults believe that they are in "right weight" or "under-weight" categories.

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ID Code: 64505
Item Type: QUT Thesis (PhD by Publication)
Supervisor: Hills, Andrew, Byrne, Nuala, Soare, Mario, & Katulanda, Prasad
Keywords: body weight perception, diabetes, diet, dietary diversity, food frequency questionnaire, non-communicable diseases, nutrition, obesity, Sri Lanka
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Health
Current > Institutes > Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation
Institution: Queensland University of Technology
Deposited On: 14 Nov 2013 04:40
Last Modified: 08 Sep 2015 21:52

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