Improving Diet Quality Is Associated with Decreased Inflammation: Findings from a Pilot Intervention in Postmenopausal Women with Obesity

Published:August 20, 2018DOI:



      Chronic inflammation is associated with obesity, morbidity, and mortality in postmenopausal women.


      The objective of this pilot study was to determine preliminary feasibility and efficacy of a dietary intervention to improve diet quality and lower inflammation.


      The study had a single-arm, pre- and posttest design.


      Fourteen postmenopausal women (body mass index >30 [calculated as kg/m2]) from the greater Columbus, OH, area participated between August 2015 and April 2016.


      This was a 12-week individualized dietary intervention targeting lower consumption of added sugars and increased fiber and fatty fish.

      Main outcome measures

      Primary outcomes of this analysis were serum tumor necrosis factor α receptor-2 (TNFαR-2), interleukin-6 (IL-6), and high sensitivity C-reactive protein (hsCRP); other outcomes included intake of targeted food components and Healthy Eating Index-2010 (HEI-2010) scores calculated from food frequency questionnaires at baseline, end of intervention (week 12 [WK12]), and 24-week (WK24) follow-up.

      Statistical analyses performed

      Repeated measures analysis of variance and partial Pearson correlations, respectively, were used to assess changes in outcomes and associations between dietary variables and inflammatory markers, controlling for percent weight change.


      Mean levels of TNFαR-2 decreased pre- to postintervention (P<0.01) and remained reduced at WK24 (P<0.001). Mean intake of added sugars and n-3-rich fish improved from baseline to WK12 and remained better at WK24 (all P<0.001); mean fiber intake did not change significantly (P=0.66; baseline to WK24). Mean HEI-2010 score increased (P<0.001; baseline to WK12). Change in HEI-2010 score inversely correlated with change in TNFαR-2 (P<0.05; baseline to WK24). Change in added sugars directly correlated with change in TNFαR-2 (P<0.05; baseline to WK24), but inversely correlated with change in hsCRP (P<0.05; baseline to WK12, and WK12 to WK24). All participants lost weight by WK12 (P<0.001).


      These pilot intervention findings suggest that improving diet quality is associated with decreases in TNFαR-2.


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      K. Arnold is a nutritionist, Columbus, OH; at time of the study, she was a graduate student, Human Nutrition Program, The Ohio State University, Columbus.


      K. R. Weinhold is a research coordinator, Human Nutrition Program, The Ohio State University, Columbus.


      T. S. Orchard is an assistant professor, Human Nutrition Program, The Ohio State University, Columbus.


      R. Andridge is an associate professor at the Division of Biostatistics, The Ohio State University, Columbus.


      K. Johnson is a registered dietitian nutritionist, West Des Moines, IA; at the time of the study, she was a graduate student, Human Nutrition Program, The Ohio State University, Columbus.