Combining recent nutritional data with prospective cohorts to quantify the impact of modern dietary patterns on disability–adjusted life years : A feasibility study

Krieger, Jean Philippe; Pestoni, Giulia; Frehner, Anita; Schader, Christian; Faeh, David; Rohrmann, Sabine


Unhealthy diets are commonly associated with increased disability-adjusted life years (DALYs) from noncommunicable diseases. The association between DALYs and dietary patterns can be quantified with individual longitudinal data. This assessment, however, is often based on dietary data collected once at cohort entry, therefore reflecting the impact of “old” dietary habits on morbidity and mortality. To overcome this limitation, we tested the association of contemporary diets with DALYs. First, we defined contemporary dietary patterns consumed in Switzerland with the national nutrition survey menuCH (2014–2015). Second, we identified individuals who consumed similar diets in the NRP–MONICA census-linked cohort (1977–2015). In this cohort, individual data on disease and mortality were used to calculate the DALYs-dietary patterns association using a mixed regression model. A total of 58,771 DALYs from NCDs were recorded in a mean follow-up time of 25.5 years. After multivariable adjustments, the “Swiss traditional” pattern was not associated with an increase in DALYs compared to the “Prudent” pattern. However, individuals following a “Western” pattern had, on average 0.29 DALYs (95% CI 0.02, 0.56) more than those following a “Prudent” pattern, equating to a loss of healthy life of more than three months. These data highlight the feasibility of quantifying the impact of contemporary diets on DALYs without the establishment of new cohorts or the use of nationally aggregated data.