The role of protein intake in the relationship between egg consumption and body composition in young adults. A mediation analysis

PMID: 36122498 DOI: 10.1016/j.clnu.2022.08.030


Background & aims: To date, the literature examining the effects of whole-egg consumption on health outcomes focuses primarily on cardiovascular health markers; however, a significant gap exists in the literature about how egg consumption may influence body composition indicators. The aim of this study was to estimate the association between egg consumption and body composition indicators and to examine whether this relationship is mediated by protein intake in young adults.

Methods: A cross-sectional study was conducted involving 355 first-year university students (aged 18-30 years) from a Spanish public university. Body composition was measured using bioimpedance and dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA) and fitness components were determined using the course-navette test. Egg consumption and protein intake (both in g/day/kg of body weight) were determined using a 137-item Food-Frequency Questionnaire. ANCOVA models were used to test the mean differences in body composition indicators (body mass index [BMI], ratio waist circumference/height [WC/height], body fat mass percentage, and body lean mass percentage) by egg consumption categories (<1 egg/week, 1-4 eggs/week, ≥5 eggs/week). Hayes's PROCESS macro was used for mediation analyses.

Results: Participants reporting high egg consumption (≥5 eggs/week) showed significantly lower BMI, WC/height and body fat mass percentage values and higher body lean mass percentage values than those reporting low egg consumption (<1 egg/week) (p < 0.05). However, these relationships were not maintained after adjusting for protein intake. Protein intake acted as a full mediator of the relationships of egg consumption with BMI (indirect effect [IE] = -1.19; 95% CI [-3.33; -0.36]), WC/height (IE = -0.01; 95% CI [-0.04; -0.01]) and body lean mass percentage (IE = 2.99; 95% CI [1.26; 5.73]) as a partial mediator of the relationship be-tween egg consumption and body fat mass percentage (IE = -2.19; 95% CI [-4.92; -0.46]).

Conclusions: The association between egg consumption and body composition is mediated by protein intake. This finding is important from a public health perspective, suggesting that higher egg consumption (≥5 eggs/week) may lead to a healthier body composition, especially due to higher protein intake.

Keywords: Adiposity; College students; Eggs; Energy; Mediation; Protein.