Metabolic Syndrome (MetS) constitutes a relevant public health burden. Several studies have demonstrated the association between diet and MetS. We performed a systematic review and meta-analysis to provide an estimate of the association between dietary patterns defined through a posteriori methods and MetS. A literature search on PubMed, Web of Science, and Scopus databases, up to March 2019, was conducted to identify all eligible case-control, prospective, or cross-sectional studies involving adult subjects of both sexes. Random-effects models were used. Heterogeneity and publication bias were evaluated. Stratified analyses were conducted on study characteristics. Forty observational studies were included in the meta-analysis, which identified the "Healthy" and the "Meat/Western" dietary patterns. The "Healthy" pattern was associated with reduced MetS risk (OR = 0.85; 95% confidence interval (CI): 0.79-0.91) and significantly decreased the risk in both sexes and in Eastern countries, particularly in Asia. Adherence to the "Meat/Western" pattern increased MetS risk (OR = 1.19; 95% CI: 1.09-1.29) and the association persisted in the stratified analysis by geographic area (Asia, Europe, America) and study design. Lifestyle is linked to risk of developing MetS. The "Healthy" and "Meat/Western" patterns are significantly associated with reduced and increased MetS risk, respectively. Nutrition represents an important modifiable factor affecting MetS risk.
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