Zhou L, Li H, Zhang S, Yang H, Ma Y, Wang Y
Eur J Nutr - (-) - [2022-08-16; online 2022-08-16]
Nutrition plays a key role in supporting the human immune system and reducing the risk of infections. However, there is limited evidence exploring the relationship between diet and the risk of COVID-19. This study aimed to assess the associations between consumption of ultra-processed foods (UPF) and COVID-19 risk. In total, 41,012 participants from the UK Biobank study with at least 2 of up to 5 times 24-h dietary assessments were included in this study. Dietary intakes were collected using an online 24-h dietary recall questionnaire and food items were categorized according to their degree of processing by the NOVA classification. COVID-19 infection was defined as individuals tested COVID-19 positive or dead of COVID-19. Association between average UPF consumption (% daily gram intake) and COVID-19 infection was assessed by multivariable logistic regression adjusted for potential confounders. Compared to participants in the lowest quartile of UPF proportion (% daily gram intake) in the diet, participants in the 2nd, 3rd, and highest quartiles were associated with a higher risk of COVID-19 with the odds ratio (OR) value of 1.03 (95% CI: 0.94-1.13), 1.24 (95% CI: 1.13-1.36), and 1.22 (95% CI: 1.12-1.34), respectively (P for trend < 0.001), after adjusting for potential confounders. The results were robust in a series of sensitivity analyses. No interaction effect was identified between the UPF proportions and age groups, education level, body mass index, and comorbidity status. BMI mediated 13.2% of this association. Higher consumption of UPF was associated with an increased risk of COVID-19 infection. Further studies are needed to better understand the underlying mechanisms in such association.