Dietary patterns analysis is an emerging area of research. Identifying distinct patterns within a large dietary survey can give a more accurate representation of what people are eating. Furthermore, it allows researchers to analyse relationships between non-communicable diseases (NCD) and complete diets rather than individual food items or nutrients. However, few such studies have been conducted in developing countries including India, where the population has a high burden of diabetes and CVD. We undertook a systematic review of published and grey literature exploring dietary patterns and relationships with diet-related NCD in India. We identified eight studies, including eleven separate models of dietary patterns. Most dietary patterns were vegetarian with a predominance of fruit, vegetables and pulses, as well as cereals; dietary patterns based on high-fat, high-sugar foods and more meat were also identified. There was large variability between regions in dietary patterns, and there was some evidence of change in diets over time, although no evidence of different diets by sex or age was found. Consumers of high-fat dietary patterns were more likely to have greater BMI, and a dietary pattern high in sweets and snacks was associated with greater risk of diabetes compared with a traditional diet high in rice and pulses, but other relationships with NCD risk factors were less clear. This review shows that dietary pattern analyses can be highly valuable in assessing variability in national diets and diet–disease relationships. However, to date, most studies in India are limited by data and methodological shortcomings.
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