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Association of organic food consumption with obesity in a nationally representative sample

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  17 August 2020

Corentin J. Gosling*
DysCo Lab, Paris Nanterre University, F-92000 Nanterre, France EA 4057, Université de Paris, F-92000 Boulogne-Billancourt, France
Aurélie Goncalves
Univ. Nîmes, EA 7352 CHROME/APSY-V, F-30021 Nîmes Cedex, France
Mickaël Ehrminger
Université Paris-Saclay, UVSQ, Inserm, CESP, 94807 Villejuif, France
Richard Valliant
Institute for Social Research, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI 48104-2321, USA
*Corresponding author: Corentin J. Gosling, email


The increased prevalence and adverse health consequences of obesity have made it one of the leading public health issues in recent years. Importantly, several epidemiological studies have revealed significant associations between BMI and organic food consumption. However, although these studies have suggested that this factor holds promise to prevent obesity, they all suffer from methodological limitations, including self-reporting methods to assess BMI, not controlling for potential confounding factors or using a non-representative sample. Moreover, all were restricted to an adult sample. We present the results of a cross-sectional epidemiological study assessing the association of organic food consumption with BMI and obesity in a representative lifespan French sample (INCA3 study). Objective methods were used to measure BMI, and several potentially confounding variables were controlled for. In total, 1775 children and adolescents and 2121 adults underwent anthropometric measurements and completed questionnaires concerning their dietary habits and lifestyle. Unadjusted models systematically revealed negative associations between organic food consumption and both BMI and obesity across all age groups. These associations tended to remain statistically significant even after controlling for several confounding variables concerning socio-economic status, quality of the diet and physical activity. The effect sizes were, however, small. These data confirm the association between organic food consumption and obesity during both childhood and adulthood. Evidence from randomised controlled trials is required to investigate causality between organic food consumption and lower BMI or obesity rate.

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© The Author(s), 2020. Published by Cambridge University Press on behalf of The Nutrition Society

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