Consumption of fried food may increase the risk for cardiovascular disease (CVD), according to a meta-analysis of observational studies published in Heart.

Researchers from the Shenzhen University Health Science Center searched publication databases through April 2020 for studies in which quantified weekly consumption of fried food was examined in relation with CVD or all-cause mortality. A random effects model was used to calculate relative risks (RR).

A total of 19 studies in which CVD (n=17) or all-cause mortality (n=6) were examined were included. The CVD studies (n=562,445 participants; n=36,727 major cardiovascular events [MCEs]) had cohort (n=12), case-control (n=4), and nested case-control (n=1) designs. Studies in which mortality was examined all had cohort designs (n=754,873 participants; n=85,906 deaths).

MCEs were increased among patients who had the highest vs lowest consumption of fried food (RR, 1.28; 95% CI, 1.15-1.43; I2, 82.0%). After applying a trim-and-fill method to reduce bias, high consumption of fried food remained associated with the occurrence of MCEs (RR, 1.16; 95% CI, 1.03-1.31). For every weekly additional serving of fried food, the risk for MCEs increased by 3% (RR, 1.03; 95% CI, 1.01-1.04; I2, 75.6%).

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Of 11 studies which included information on coronary heart disease (CHD), increased risk for CHD was associated with highest vs lowest fried food consumption (RR, 1.22; 95% CI, 1.07-1.40; I2, 77.9%). After applying a trim-and-fill correction, this association was no longer significant (RR, 1.15; 95% CI, 0.97-1.36).

Of 4 studies which included information on stroke and heart failure, the highest consumers of fried food were not found to have an increased risk for stroke (RR, 1.37; 95% CI, 0.97-1.94; I2, 80.7%) but had an increased risk for heart failure (RR, 1.37; 95% CI, 1.07-1.75; I2, 80.0%).

Of 3 studies in which cardiovascular-related mortality was examined, no association was established with consumption of fried food (RR, 1.03; 95% CI, 0.93-1.14; I2, 27.3%).

No association between all-cause mortality and consumption of fried food was observed (RR, 1.03; 95% CI, 0.96-1.12; I2, 38.0%). However, in studies in which participants were followed for ³10 years (n=8), an association was established between all-cause mortality and high consumption of fried food (RR, 1.05; 95% CI, 1.00-1.11).

This study is limited by the high heterogeneity of studies included and by the low number of studies containing data on mortality, stroke, and heart failure.

“The findings may support public health recommendations to control fried-food intake for

preventing CVD,” concluded the study authors.


Qin P, Zhang M, Han M, et al. Fried-food consumption and risk of cardiovascular disease and all-cause mortality: a meta-analysis of observational studies. Heart. 2021;heartjnl-2020-317883. doi:10.1136/heartjnl-2020-317883