The role of diet in cardiovascular disease in black South Africans : both sides of the story
Dolman, Robin Claire
MetadataShow full item record
Background: Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is becoming one of the leading causes of death in middle and low income countries, with ischaemic heart disease specifically being predicted to be the 4th and 5th causes respectively. The numerous risk factors for the development of CVD have been extensively researched; however, the same wealth of data is not available for the black South African population as there is for Caucasians. Although the same risk factors that are present in Caucasians have been seen to be present in the black South Africans, there are questions regarding the contributory roles of the individual risk factors, particularly within the context of urbanisation. The role of diet in CVD has been widely studied and it is known that with urbanisation there are dietary changes which are thought to add the development of CVD. With urbanisation, however, there are numerous other lifestyle changes taking place within a population, making it difficult to isolate and make conclusions of the individual role of diet. Added to this is the complex issue of assessing dietary intake. Assessing only nutrient or food intake does not give a holistic picture of dietary habits. The main aim of this study was to determine the association between dietary intake and CVD risk in black South Africans in the context of urbanisation. Methods: The first study that forms part of this thesis was a case-control study aimed at exploring the risk factor profile and clinical presentation of black South African patients with coronary artery disease (CAD). In this study clinical, biochemical and nutrient intakes were compared with a black South African control group that were matched for age and body composition. The second study to form part of this thesis aimed to relate the dietary intakes of the Prospective Urban and Rural Epidemiological (PURE) study population to CVD risk associated with urbanisation, by using both nutrient intake and predefined diet quality scores (DQS). The Healthy Diet Indicator (HDI) and the Deficiency and Excess Score were carefully selected from the large number of available scores and adapted as best as possible for the black South African population. The third study aimed to investigate the role of dietary intake by using nutrients as well as food group consumption patterns as a risk factor in urbanised black South African CAD patients. The dietary habits of the coronary artery disease (CAD) patients were compared to that of an apparently healthy reference group of volunteers selected from the PURE study population. This urbanised reference group was from a similar socio- demographic background and was selected according to their risk for CVD. The Reynolds Risk score which includes C-reactive protein as factor was used to stratify the PURE population into CVD risk categories, in order to select the reference group, which had a low risk (<5%) of developing CVD within the next 10 years. Dietary intake was assessed by comparing nutrient and food group intake (including the ultra-processed food group category). Results and discussion: Black South African CAD patients had increased levels of the same risk factors that are seen in Caucasians with insulin resistance and LDL size being particularly significant in their contribution. Apart from a lower vitamin C intake, no differences in dietary intake and physical activity were observed between the CAD and control group. When comparing the dietary intake of the rural and urban group, the urban group, who had an increased CVD risk, had higher intakes of macro- and micronutrients as well as higher DQS. The DQS must however be interpreted with caution, as when looking at the absolute intakes of individual components of the scores, the urban group was still deficient in a numerous vital micronutrients. A similar picture was seen in the third study, in that the CAD patients also consumed more saturated fatty acids and ultra-processed foods than the reference group, as well as more of the “protective” foods such as fruit and vegetables. However, although their dietary habits could be considered prudent, they were still inadequate in numerous important micronutrients. Conclusion and recommendation: This thesis therefore shows that there are two sides of the story regarding the role of diet in CVD in black South Africans. Although it is important to follow prudent dietary guidelines so as to control the intake of nutrients and foods known to play a role in the development of CVD, it is just as important to ensure adequate intake of the foods rich in micronutrients known to protect against CVD. Dietary advice and prevention programs should also focus on the adequacy aspect of the diet, such as increasing fruit and vegetable and low fat dairy intake, not only on the prudent diet aspect. Additionally, nutrient intake alone does not adequately explain the link between diet and CVD and additional analyses such food consumption patterns are required.
- Health Sciences