The intake of ultra-processed foods and homocysteine levels in women with(out) overweight and obesity: The Rotterdam Periconceptional Cohort

Nicole Schenkelaars, Lenie van Rossem, Sten P. Willemsen, Marijke M. Faas, Sam Schoenmakers, Régine P.M. Steegers-Theunissen*

*Corresponding author for this work

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Purpose: Today’s diet consists of a substantial proportion of ultra-processed foods (UPF), especially in women with overweight and obesity in the reproductive period. High UPF intake results in an inadequate and unbalanced diet leading to derangements of several metabolic pathways detrimental to pregnancy and birth outcomes. Therefore, we aim to investigate whether UPF intake in the periconceptional period affects total homocysteine plasma levels (tHcy). Methods: 1532 participants were included from the prospective Rotterdam Periconceptional Cohort. UPF intake was calculated using Food Frequency Questionnaires including items classified as 4 in the Nova classification, and tHcy was measured by using liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry system, with an interassay coefficient of variation of < 5.5%. Multivariable linear regression modeling was used and adjusted for covariates and significant interaction terms. Results: Women with overweight or obesity showed significantly higher percentage of UPF intake (respectively, 50.3 and 51.3%) and higher tHcy (respectively, 6.6 and 6.3 µmol/L, Kruskal–Wallis test; respectively, p < 0.001 and p = 0.04) compared to women with normal BMI (UPF intake: 46.8%, tHcy: 6.1 µmol/L). A 10% higher intake of UPF was associated with an increase in tHcy (adjusted: β = 1.31, 95% CI = 0.38–2.23). Analysis stratified for BMI classification showed comparable associations in normal weight participants (adjusted: β = 1.07, 95% CI = 0.06–2.07); however, no significant association in participants with overweight (adjusted: β = 0.06, 95% CI = − 0.95–1.07) and obesity (adjusted: β = 1.70, 95% CI = − 0.52–3.92) was shown. Conclusion: This study showed that a higher intake of UPF is associated with increased tHcy. Better knowledge and awareness of the nutritional quality of the diet in the periconceptional period may contribute to 1-CM and subsequently improve pregnancy course and outcome. Trial registration number and date: NTR4356, November 2010.

Original languageEnglish
JournalEuropean Journal of Nutrition
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 21 Feb 2024

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