Association of fried food consumption with all cause, cardiovascular, and cancer mortality: Prospective cohort study

More than 25% of adults in North America eat at fast-food restaurants every day. Many foods from these establishments are fried, which alters the composition of the food. During the frying process, foods lose water and absorb fats—which are often oxidized or hydrogenated by high heat. Frying also increases the formation of advanced glycation end products (AGEs) and acrylamide, which contribute to oxidative stress and inflammation when consumed.

Methods

Data from the Women’s Health Initiative was evaluated to examine the association of total and specific fried food consumption with all-cause, cardiovascular, and cancer mortality in US women. A total of 106,966 postmenopausal women were included in the analysis. Food frequency questionnaire data were compared with death records over a mean of 18 years. Associations were adjusted for a variety of factors related to mortality, including age, race, socioeconomic status, hormone use, lifestyle factor, health status, and body mass index.

More than 25% of adults in North America eat at fast-food restaurants every day.

Results

More frequent total fried food consumption was associated with a higher risk of all-cause mortality, with a multivariable adjusted hazard ratio (HR) of 1.08 (95% CI, 1.01-1.16) for at least one serving per day when compared with no consumption. For specific fried foods, fried chicken and fried fish or shellfish were also associated with a higher risk of all-cause mortality.

Total fried food consumption of at least one serving per day was associated with a modestly higher but not significantly increased risk of cardiovascular mortality. Fried chicken consumption of at least one serving per week (HR=1.12, 95% CI, 1.02-1.23) and fried fish or shellfish consumption of at least one serving per week (HR=1.13; 95% CI, 1.04-1.22) were both associated with a higher risk of cardiovascular mortality when compared with no consumption. Neither total nor specific fried food consumption was associated with cancer mortality.

Conclusions

The main finding of this study—that fried food consumption is associated with an increased risk of all-cause and cardiovascular mortality—contradicts findings from a previous study in Spain, which found no such association. The authors propose that different methods of frying may explain these differences. In the US, most fried foods are consumed from fast-food restaurants. In Mediterranean countries like Spain, fried foods are commonly prepared at home. Further studies are needed to determine whether preparations methods of fried foods influence health outcomes. The present study concludes that fried food consumption is associated with an increased risk of all-cause and cardiovascular mortality in postmenopausal women in the US.

Sun, Y., Liu, B., Snetselaar, L.G., Robinson, J.G., Wallace, R.B., Peterson, L.L., & Bao, W. (2019). Association of fried food consumption with all cause, cardiovascular, and cancer mortality: Prospective cohort study. BMJ, 364, k5420.