A "Western" diet appears to be associated with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), respiratory symptoms, and decreased lung function, according to a study published online in the Annals of the American Thoracic Society.

Emily P. Brigham, M.D., from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, and colleagues used data from the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities Study (ARIC; 15,792 participants) to assess associations between dietary pattern and pulmonary assessments.

The researchers found that higher scores in the Western diet pattern (quintile 5 versus quintile 1) were associated with higher prevalence of COPD (prevalence ratio [PR], 1.62), wheeze (PR, 1.37), cough (PR, 1.32), and phlegm (PR, 1.27).

In addition, the Western diet was associated with lower prevalence of percent predicted forced expiratory volume in 1 second (FEV1), percent predicted forced vital capacity (FVC), and FEV1/FVC ratio.

In contrast, those with higher scores in the "Prudent" diet pattern (quintile 5 versus quintile 1) had lower prevalence of COPD (PR, 0.82) and cough (PR, 0.77) and higher percent predicted FEV1 and FEV1/FVC ratio.

"A Western dietary pattern was associated with respiratory symptoms, lower lung function, and COPD in ARIC participants," the authors report.