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Trace elements may play an important role in obesity. This study aimed to assess the plasma and dietary intake levels of four trace elements, Mn, Cu, Zn and Se in a rural Chinese population, and analyse the relationship between trace elements and obesity. A cross-sectional study involving 2587 participants was conducted. Logistic regression models were used to analyse the association between trace elements and obesity; restricted cubic spline (RCS) models were used to assess the dose–response relationship between trace elements and obesity; the weighted quantile sum (WQS) model was used to examine the potential interaction of four plasma trace elements on obesity. Logistic regression analysis showed that plasma Se concentrations in the fourth quartile (Q4) exhibited a lower risk of developing obesity than the first quartile (Q1) (central obesity: OR = 0·634, P = 0·002; general obesity: OR = 0·525, P = 0·005). Plasma Zn concentration in the third quartile (Q3) showed a lower risk of developing obesity in general obesity compared with the first quartile (Q1) (OR = 0·625, P = 0·036). In general obesity, the risk of morbidity was 1·727 and 1·923 times higher for the second and third (Q2, Q3) quartiles of dietary Mn intake than for Q1, respectively. RCS indicated an inverse U-shaped correlation between plasma Se and obesity. WQS revealed the combined effects of four trace elements were negatively associated with central obesity. Plasma Zn and Se were negatively associated with obesity, and dietary Mn was positively associated with obesity. The combined action of the four plasma trace elements had a negative effect on obesity.
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