Study examines food consumption linked to inflammatory bowel disease

A secondary analysis of the National Health Interview Survey 2015 found consuming processed “junk” foods was associated with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), according to new research published in the journal PLOS One.

Several dietary patterns and specific foods have been implicated for causing IBD, and patients are often recommended nutritional guidelines to manage disease symptoms. The researchers characterized the estimated U.S. adults with IBD and their food intake and consumption frequency using bivariate and multivariate logistic regression. The analysis included an assessment of 26 foods, including fries, cheese, cookies, and soda.

The study found fries were consumed by a greater number of people with IBD. Additionally, the IBD population drank less 100 percent fruit juice and ate more cheese and cookies than non-IBD population. Intake of fries and sports and energy drinks, as well as more frequent drinking of regular soda, were significantly associated with the likelihood of having been told one have IBD, while popcorn were associated with smaller odds, according to the study.

Foods typically labeled as junk food were positively associated with IBD, the researchers said, finding the eating patterns between IBD and non-IBD population to be mostly analogous. It is unclear, they said, whether the results reflect potential change in food intake in IBD population before the survey interview.  

The researchers said future studies may aim to understand the role of food intake in IBD risk or prevalence would benefit from identifying other environmental factors, food processing, and potential bioactive food components that can induce intestinal inflammation that can increase the individual's susceptibility to IBD.