Associations between diet, physical activity and body fat distribution: a cross sectional study in an Indian population

Liza Bowen, Amy E Taylor, Ruth Sullivan, Shah Ebrahim, Sanjay Kinra, K V Radha Krishna, Bharati Kulkarni, Yoav Ben-Shlomo, Ulf Ekelund, Jonathan Ck Wells, Hannah Kuper

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

21 Citations (Scopus)


BACKGROUND: Obesity is a growing health problem in India and worldwide, due to changes in lifestyle. This study aimed to explore the independent associations between dietary and physical activity exposure variables and total body fat and distribution in an Indian setting.

METHODS: Individuals who had participated in the Indian Migration Study (IMS) or the Andhra Pradesh Children And Parents' Study (APCAPS), were invited to participate in the Hyderabad DXA Study. Total and abdominal body fat of study participants was measured using DXA scans. Diet and physical activity (PA) levels were measured using questionnaires.

RESULTS: Data on 2208 participants was available for analysis; mean age was 49 yrs in IMS, 21 yrs in APCAPS. Total energy intake was positively associated with total body fat in the APCAPS sample: a 100 kcal higher energy intake was associated with 45 g higher body fat (95% CI 22, 68). In the IMS sample no association was found with total energy intake, but there was a positive association with percent protein intake (1% higher proportion of energy from protein associated with 509 g (95% CI 138,880) higher total body fat). Broadly the same pattern of associations was found with proportion of fat in the abdominal region as the outcome. PA was inversely associated with total body fat in both populations (in APCAPS, one MET-hour higher activity was associated with 46 g (95% CI 12, 81) less body fat; in the IMS it was associated with 145 g less body fat (95% CI 73, 218)). An inverse association was observed between PA and percentage abdominal fat in the IMS but no association was seen in the APCAPS population.

CONCLUSIONS: In this Indian population, there was an inverse association between PA and body fat. Associations between body fat and dietary variables differed between the younger APCAPS population and older IMS population. Further longitudinal research is needed to elucidate causality and directions of these associations across the life course.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)281
JournalBMC Public Health
Publication statusPublished - 2015

Structured keywords

  • Brain and Behaviour
  • Tobacco and Alcohol

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