To explore whether there is an association between dietary choline intake and odds of diabetic retinopathy (DR) in the US diabetic population.
A cross-sectional study was conducted using the combined data of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) 2005-2008 of a complex, multistage, and probability-sampling design. Energy-adjusted choline intake was calculated separately for men and women using the residual method. Binary logistic regression adjusting for covariates was used to identify the variables associated with DR.
We included 644 male and 628 female diabetic subjects, which were equivalent to a weighted survey sample of 9,339,124 for males and 10,109,553 for females respectively. Female DR patients consumed more choline than non-DR patients (268.6 mg/d vs 250.9 mg/d; = 0.046). The estimated prevalence of DR was 17.4%, 21.9%, and 29.7% across three levels of dietary choline intake in females, respectively. In multivariable logistic-regression models, the odds ratio (OR) of DR for female patients in the highest choline intake group was 2.14 (95% confidence interval [CI], 1.38-3.31; = 0.001) compared with those in the lowest intake group. This association was positive but not statistically significant in males.
Higher intake of dietary choline is associated with increased odds of DR in females, but not in males. Further studies are warranted to investigate the direct role of choline in DR development and determine the recommended daily intake of choline for diabetic patients weighing the pros and cons of dietary choline consumption.