Modifying the consumption of different food-groups may keep body weight from creeping up over time, new research suggests.
The six-year study found that adults who boosted their intake of fruit during the research period put on less weight and body fat than those whose fruit consumption dipped. The same benefit was seen among men and women who started drinking more skim or low-fat milk, or who cut back on fatty foods.
Although high-fat, Atkins-style diets have been advocated for weight loss, the new study provides evidence that over the long-term, relatively high fat intake promotes weight gain, according to lead author Vicky Drapeau.
The findings support the standard public health recommendation that adults eat more fruits and vegetables and limit fat intake, noted Drapeau, a researcher at Laval University in Quebec, Canada.
In addition, she told Reuters Health, the results suggest that low-fat milk, and possibly other calcium-rich foods, are important in weight control.
The study, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, included 248 adults who kept a record of their food intake over three days, once at the beginning of the study, then again six years later. The point was to see how shifts in a person’s consumption of the various food groups are related to weight changes over time.
Drapeau’s team found that people whose intake of fruit was higher during the second survey tended to have gained less weight and body fat than those whose fruit intake had declined over time. The benefit was related to “whole” fruits only, and not fruit juice - which the researchers say is unsurprising, since whole fruit contains fiber and is therefore likely to be more filling than juice.
Increasing intakes of skim or low-fat milk were also tied to less weight gain and trimmer waistlines, while adding fat to the diet seemed to help add fat to the body, the researchers found.
According to Drapeau, the benefit of bumping up fruit intake and cutting out fats is partially explained by calories; people who ate more fat and less fruit tended to have higher overall calorie intakes.
SOURCE: American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, July 2004.
Revision date: June 20, 2011
Last revised: by Jorge P. Ribeiro, MD