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Intake of fried foods is associated with obesity in the cohort of Spanish adults from the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition.BACKGROUND: Consumption of fried food has been suggested to promote obesity, but this association has seldom been studied. OBJECTIVE: We aimed to assess the association of energy intake from fried food with general and central obesity in Spain, a Mediterranean country where frying with oil is a traditional cooking procedure. DESIGN: This was a cross-sectional study of 33 542 Spanish persons aged 29-69 y who were participating in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition between 1992 and 1996. Dietary intake was assessed by a diet history questionnaire. Height, weight, and waist circumference were measured by trained interviewers. Analyses were performed with logistic regression and were adjusted for total energy intake and other confounders. RESULTS: The prevalence of general obesity [body mass index (in kg/m(2)) >or= 30] was 27.6% in men and 27.7% in women. Respective figures for central obesity (waist circumference >or= 102 cm in men and >or= 88 cm in women) were 34.5% and 42.6%. The average proportion of energy intake from fried food was 15.6% in men and 12.6% in women. The adjusted odds ratios for general obesity in the highest versus the lowest quintile of fried food intake were 1.26 (95% CI: 1.09, 1.45; P for trend < 0.001) in men and 1.25 (1.11, 1.41; P for trend < 0.001) in women. The corresponding values for central obesity were 1.17 (1.02, 1.34; P for trend < 0.003) in men and 1.27 (1.13, 1.42; P for trend < 0.001) in women. CONCLUSION: Fried food was positively associated with general and central obesity only among subjects in the highest quintile of energy intake from fried food.