Chilli consumption and the incidence of overweight and obesity in a Chinese adult population

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The frequency of spicy food intake has recently been associated with a reduced risk of mortality in the Chinese population. This study aimed to prospectively examine the association between chilli intake and the incidence of overweight/obesity in a Chinese adult population.


Adults aged 20-75 years in the China Health and Nutrition Survey were followed between 1991 and 2011. Dietary data were collected during home visits using a 3-day food record in 1991, 1993, 1997, 2000, 2004, 2006, 2009 and 2011. Cox regression was used in the analysis. Overweight/obesity was defined as body mass index ≥ 25 kg m-2.


A total 12 970 adults were followed for a median of 9 years. During 126 884 person-years of follow-up, 3203 subjects developed overweight/obesity. The absolute incidence rate of overweight/obesity was 26.4, 22.3, 24.4 and 20.5 per 1000 person-years among those who consumed no chilli or 1-20, 20.1-50, ≥ 50.1 g per day, respectively. Chilli consumption was therefore inversely associated with the incidence of overweight/obesity. After adjusting for age, gender, energy and fat intake, smoking, alcohol drinking and physical activity, those whose cumulative average chilli intake was 0, 1-20, 20.1-50 and ≥ 50.1 g per day had a hazard ratio for overweight/obesity of 1.00, 0.81 (95% confidence interval = 0.73-0.89), 0.77 (0.69-0.86) and 0.73 (0.63-0.84); P for trend < 0.001, respectively. There was no interaction between chilli intake and gender, income, education and residence (urban/rural) in relation to the risk of overweight/obesity.


Chilli intake is inversely associated with the risk of becoming overweight/obese in Chinese adults.

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