OBJECTIVE Limited observational studies have considered habitual consumption of the general population to examine the relationship between the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet and obesity. The aim of the present study was to investigate adherence to the DASH diet in relation to general and central obesity among female nurses in Isfahan, Iran. DESIGN Cross-sectional study carried out among 293 female nurses aged >30 years who were selected by a multistage, cluster random sampling method. Usual dietary intakes were assessed using a validated FFQ. We constructed the DASH score based on foods and nutrients emphasized or minimized in the DASH diet, focusing on eight components: high intake of fruits, vegetables, nuts and legumes, low-fat dairy products and whole grains and low intakes of sodium, sweetened beverages, and red and processed meats. General and abdominal obesity were defined as BMI ≥ 25 kg/m2 and waist circumference ≥ 88 cm, respectively. SETTING Isfahan, Iran. SUBJECTS Female nurses (n 293) aged >30 years. RESULTS Increased adherence to the DASH diet was associated with older age (P<0.01) and lower waist circumference (P=0.04). There was no statistically significant difference in the prevalence of general obesity between extreme quartiles of the DASH diet score. After adjustment for age, energy intake and other confounding factors, DASH diet score was not significantly associated with obesity. However, with further controlling for other dietary factors, those in the highest quartile of DASH diet score were 71 % less likely to have general obesity compared with those in the lowest quartile. In addition, following a DASH diet was inversely associated with central obesity after adjustment for potential confounders (OR=0.37; 95 % CI 0.14, 0.96). CONCLUSIONS We found that adherence to the DASH diet was inversely related to central obesity among Iranian adult females. This association remained significant even after adjustment for potential confounders.