BACKGROUND Consumption of fried food has been suggested to promote obesity, but this association has seldom been studied. OBJECTIVE We aimed to assess the association of energy intake from fried food with general and central obesity in Spain, a Mediterranean country where frying with oil is a traditional cooking procedure. DESIGN This was a cross-sectional study of 33 542 Spanish persons aged 29-69 y who were participating in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition between 1992 and 1996. Dietary intake was assessed by a diet history questionnaire. Height, weight, and waist circumference were measured by trained interviewers. Analyses were performed with logistic regression and were adjusted for total energy intake and other confounders. RESULTS The prevalence of general obesity [body mass index (in kg/m(2)) >or= 30] was 27.6% in men and 27.7% in women. Respective figures for central obesity (waist circumference >or= 102 cm in men and >or= 88 cm in women) were 34.5% and 42.6%. The average proportion of energy intake from fried food was 15.6% in men and 12.6% in women. The adjusted odds ratios for general obesity in the highest versus the lowest quintile of fried food intake were 1.26 (95% CI: 1.09, 1.45; P for trend < 0.001) in men and 1.25 (1.11, 1.41; P for trend < 0.001) in women. The corresponding values for central obesity were 1.17 (1.02, 1.34; P for trend < 0.003) in men and 1.27 (1.13, 1.42; P for trend < 0.001) in women. CONCLUSION Fried food was positively associated with general and central obesity only among subjects in the highest quintile of energy intake from fried food.