Increased whole grain consumption linked to better weight

By staff reporter

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Nutrition

An increased intake of wholegrain products in the diet may reduce a
person's likelihood of being overweight or obese, suggests a new
study from Holland.

Although the results of the new study appear to back up the 2005 Dietary Guidelines to Americans recommendation to consume at least three wholegrain servings per day, the authors are quick to note that the study is cross-sectional in design and therefore does not prove causality. "We found an inverse association between whole-grain consumption and BMI and risk of overweight and obesity in men as well as women,"​ wrote the authors in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition​. "The association in men was stronger than in women; the risk of being obese as compared to normal weight was 10 per cent and four per cent lower for each additional gram of (dry) grain consumption in men and women, respectively,"​ they added. Whole grains have received considerable attention in the last year, especially in the US where the FDA permits foods containing at least 51 per cent whole grains by weight and are low in total fat, saturated fat, and cholesterol to carry a health claim, which links them to a reduced risk of heart disease and certain cancers. The term whole grain is considered to be more consumer-friendly than the term fibre, which leads some manufacturers to favour it on product packaging since it is likely to strike more of a chord of recognition for its healthy benefits. The new study, by researchers at TNO Quality of Life and Maastricht University, looked at the effects of dietary patterns amongst 2078 men and 2159 women, aged between 55 and 69. Measurements of body mass index (BMI) were taken After accounting for potentially confounding factors such as age, energy intake, intake of animal protein, education, smoking status, number of cigarettes and consumption of fruit and vegetables, the researchers found that wholegrain consumption was related to a reduced risk of being obese in men and women. However, when they looked at the intake of fibre and cereal fibre, the associated with BMI measurements was found only in men. "Whole-grain consumption may protect against becoming overweight or obese; however, the cross-sectional design of the study does not allow conclusions about the causality of the association,"​ noted the researchers. No direct mechanistic study was performed by the researchers, but they propose that the whole grains might help in the prevention of weight gain may be due to their effect on satiety. However, they state that Institute of Medicine has stated that the effect from fibre is not supported by sufficient evidence. "Another potential mechanism is to slow down starch digestion and absorption, which leads to lower glucose and insulin responses that favour oxidation and lipolysis of fat rather than its storage,"​ they added. Because the study was cross-sectional, the researchers state that this does not allow conclusions to be drawn on causality. "Nevertheless, the consistency of the association between whole-grain consumption and BMI and its biological plausibility are in line with a causal association,"​ they wrote. "Intervention studies are needed to find out whether consumption of whole grain as such decreases the risk of becoming overweight." ​ This study adds to a number of observational studies linking whole grains to lower risks of the diseases - news that has already been grasped by cereal makers as the number of wholegrain products look set to rise. Sales of whole grains products in the US have increased following recommendations of the health benefits in the USDA's new Dietary Guidelines for Americans. In Europe, the € 16 million Healthgrain Integrated Project was recently launched to the effects of bioactive compounds in wheat and rye, identify new sources of nutritionally enhanced grain, as well as to develop methods to make cereal products more appealing to consumers. Source: European Journal of Clinical Nutrition​ Published on-line ahead of print September 26, doi: 10.1038/sj.ejcn.1602895 "Whole-grain consumption, dietary fibre intake and body mass index in the Netherlands cohort study" ​Authors: L.P.L. van de Vijver, L.M.C. van den Bosch, P.A. van den Brandt and R.A. Goldbohm

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