A Comparison of Egg Consumption with Other Modifiable Coronary Heart Disease Lifestyle Risk Factors: A Relative Risk Apportionment Study
Guidelines from the American Heart Association (AHA) recommend that healthy adults limit their intake of dietary cholesterol to less than 300 mg per day. Since a large egg contains about 71% of that amount, the AHA recommends restricting egg consumption unless dietary cholesterol intakes from other sources are limited. We applied a risk apportionment approach to estimate the contribution of egg consumption and other modifiable lifestyle risk factors (e.g., smoking, poor diet, minimal exercise, and alcohol intake) to coronary heart disease (CHD) risk at the population level. Specifically, we categorized the U.S. adult population ages 25+ into distinct risk groups based on the prevalence of modifiable lifestyle risk factors and applied an apportionment model, typically used to assess risk contribution at the individual level, to estimate the contribution of egg intake to CHD risk. Our analysis shows that the combination of modifiable lifestyle risk factors accounts for less than 40% of the population CHD mortality. For the majority of U.S. adults age 25+, consuming one egg a day accounts for <1% of CHD risk. Hence, focusing on decreasing egg intake as an approach to modify CHD risk would be expected to yield minimal results relative to changing other behaviors such as smoking and other dietary habits.