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Associations between healthy eating patterns and indicators of metabolic risk in postmenopausal women

Ana P Tardivo1, Jorge Nahas-Neto1, Eliana AP Nahas1*, Nailza Maesta2, Marcio AH Rodrigues1 and Fabio L Orsatti12

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Gynecology and Obstetrics, Botucatu Medical School, UNESP- Sao Paulo State University, Brazil

2 Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism Center of Department of Public Health, Botucatu Medical School, UNESP- Sao Paulo State University, Brazil

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Nutrition Journal 2010, 9:64  doi:10.1186/1475-2891-9-64

Published: 8 December 2010



Since human diets contain many components that may work synergistically to prevent or promote disease, assessing diet quality may be informative. The purpose of this study was to investigate the association between quality diet, by using Healthy Eating Index (HEI), and metabolic risk indicators in postmenopausal women.


This cross-sectional study included a total of 173 Brazilian women, aged 45-75 years, seeking healthcare at a public outpatient center. Food consumption assessed by 24 h-recall food inquiry was used to calculate HEI scores: >80 implied diet good, 80-51 diet "needed improvement", and <51 diet poor. Anthropometric data included: body mass index (BMI = weight/height2), waist-circumference (WC), body fat (%BF) and lean mass (%LM). Data on total cholesterol (TC), high density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDLC), low density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDLC), and triglycerides (TG) were also collected. Fisher's Exact test, and logistic regression method (to determine odds ratio, OR) were used in the statistical analysis.


Overweight and obesity were observed in 75.7% of the participants. Excessive %BF (> 35%) was observed in 56.1%, while %LM was reduced (< 70%) in 78.1%. WC was elevated (≥88 cm) in 72.3%. Based on HEI values, diet quality was good in 3% (5/173), needed improvement in 48.5% (84/173), and was poor in 48.5% (84/173) of the cases. In this group, 75% of women had high intakes of lipids (> 35%), predominantly saturated and monounsaturated fat. On average, plasma TC, LDLC, and TG levels were higher than recommended in 57.2%, 79.2% and 45.1% of the women, respectively, while HDLC was low in 50.8%. There was association between HEI scores and the %BF that it was higher among women with HEI score < 80 (p = 0.021). There were not observed significant risk associations between HEI and lipid profile.


Among the Brazilian postmenopausal women attending a public outpatient clinic, diet was considered to need improvement or to be of poor quality, attributed to high saturated fat ingestion, which probably caused a negative impact on metabolic risk indicators, namely body composition.