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Eating more fruits and non-starchy vegetables is associated with less weight gain

PLOS

Increased consumption of fruits and non-starchy vegetables is inversely associated with weight change, according to a study published this week in PLOS Medicine. The longitudinal study, conducted by Monica Bertoia of Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health and Brigham & Women's Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts, and colleagues, shows differences by type of fruit or vegetable, suggesting that characteristics of these foods influence the strength of their association with weight change.

The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend that adults and children should eat a variety of fruits and vegetables to help them achieve and maintain a healthy weight. In this study, Bertoia and colleagues examined associations between changes in the intake of specific fruits and vegetables recorded in dietary questionnaires and self-reported weight changes in 133,468 US men and women followed for up to 24 years in the Nurses' Health Study, Health Professionals Follow-up Study and Nurses' Health Study II. After adjusting for self-reported changes in other lifestyle factors such as smoking status and physical activity, an increased intake of fruits and of several vegetables was inversely associated with 4-y weight change (-0.53 lb (- 0.24 kg) for each extra daily serving of fruit, -0.25 lb (-0.11 kg) for vegetables). However, starchy vegetables, for example peas (1.13 lb; 95% CI 0.37 to 1.89 lb) and corn (2.04 lb; 95% CI 0.94 to 3.15 lb), were associated with weight gain.

These findings may not be generalizable--nearly all the participants were well-educated white adults, and the use of dietary questionnaires and self-reported weight measurement may have introduced measurement errors. However, study strengths include a very large sample size and long follow-up, with consistent results across three cohorts. The authors state, "our findings support benefits of increased fruit and vegetable consumption for preventing long-term weight gain and provide further food-specific guidance for the prevention of obesity, a primary risk factor for type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, cancers, and many other health conditions."

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Research Article

Funding:

This study was supported by grants P01 CA87969, R01 CA49449, R01 HL034594, R01 HL088521, UM1 CA176726, R01 CA67262, UM1 CA167552, R01 HL35464, and K24DK082730 from the National Institutes of Health. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.

Competing Interests:

The authors of this manuscript have the following competing interests: EBR has funding from the USDA/US Blueberry Highbush Council to conduct observational and experimental studies of blueberries and CVD health outcomes. DM has received ad hoc honoraria and consulting fees from Bunge, Haas Avocado Board, Nutrition Impact, Amarin, Astra Zeneca, Boston Heart Diagnostics, and Life Sciences Research Organization. He is on the scientific advisory board of Unilever North America. DSL has grants from philanthropic organizations and receives royalties from books on obesity. In all cases, these funding sources are unrelated to this project, and the authors perceive no pertinent conflicts. All other authors declare that no competing interests exist.

Citation:

Bertoia ML, Mukamal KJ, Cahill LE, Hou T, Ludwig DS, Mozaffarian D, et al. (2015) Changes in Intake of Fruits and Vegetables and Weight Change in United States Men and Women Followed for Up to 24 Years: Analysis from Three Prospective Cohort Studies. PLoS Med 12(9): e1001878. doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001878

Author Affiliations:

Department of Nutrition, Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts, United States of America

Channing Division of Network Medicine, Department of Medicine, Brigham & Women's Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts, United States of America

Department of Medicine, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Boston, Massachusetts, United States of America

Department of Epidemiology, Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts, United States of America

New Balance Foundation Obesity Prevention Center, Boston Children's Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts, United States of America

Division of Cardiovascular Medicine, Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts, United States of America

Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy, Tufts University, Boston, Massachusetts, United States of America

IN YOUR COVERAGE PLEASE USE THIS URL TO PROVIDE ACCESS TO THE FREELY AVAILABLE PAPER:

http://journals.plos.org/plosmedicine/article?id=10.1371/journal.pmed.1001878

Contact:

Monica Bertoia
Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health
Department of Nutrition
655 Huntington Ave
Building 2, room 300
Boston, MA 02115
UNITED STATES
mbertoia@hsph.harvard.edu

Alternative contact September 22-October 1

Eric Rimm
Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health
Department of Nutrition
655 Huntington Ave
Building 2, room 373A
Boston, MA 02115
UNITED STATES
617-432-1843
erimm@hsph.harvard.edu

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