In a recent study conducted by researchers in the United States, it has been suggested that replacing peas and corn with vegetables like carrots and broccoli may be linked to reduced long-term weight gain. The study delves into the broader implications of carbohydrate intake from specific food sources, particularly starchy vegetables, and its impact on weight gain during midlife. The role of diet is paramount in maintaining health and preventing various diseases.
This association takes on added significance in light of the growing prevalence of excess weight and obesity, especially in regions like Europe, where nearly two-thirds of adults and one-third of children are classified as overweight or obese, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). WHO asserts that obesity is a major contributor to mortality and disability, associated with 13 different types of cancer, emphasizing the need for multidisciplinary treatment and management. Given the scale of this issue, scientists are increasingly exploring the properties of different foods to prioritize those that promote better health.
This extensive American study focuses on the role of carbohydrates in long-term weight gain and obesity. Researchers analyzed data from 136,432 individuals aged 65 and under who participated in various studies over a 24-year follow-up period. These participants were in good health at the outset and provided information through questionnaires on factors such as medical history and lifestyle every two to four years. The study revealed an average weight gain of 1.5 kg every four years, totaling nearly 9 kg over the study’s duration.
Notably, the study, published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ), found that increases in glycemic index and glycemic load, which measure the impact of specific foods on blood glucose levels, were associated with long-term weight gain. Additionally, increased consumption of carbohydrates from refined cereals, starchy vegetables (such as potatoes, corn, and peas), and sugary beverages was linked to more substantial weight gain during midlife compared to increased consumption of fiber and carbohydrates from whole grains and non-starchy fruits and vegetables.
To delve deeper into the specifics, researchers noted that an increase of 100 grams of starch or added sugar per day led to an average weight gain of 1.5 kg and 0.9 kg over four years, respectively, while an increase of 10 grams per day of fiber was associated with 0.8 kg less weight gain. Focusing on vegetables, they observed that greater consumption of carbohydrates from non-starchy options like broccoli, carrots, and spinach was associated with lower weight gain compared to carbohydrates from starchy sources like potatoes, peas, and corn.
The researchers summarized, “The associations were stronger among participants with excessive body weight than those with normal weight,” and they noted that these associations were more pronounced in women than in men.
Despite the study’s limitations, including its reliance on self-evaluation, the researchers emphasized that it represents “a large study using repeated dietary assessments and validated questionnaires over a long follow-up period, spanning the important period of weight gain in midlife.”
In conclusion, the study’s authors underscored the significance of carbohydrate quality and source in long-term weight management, especially for individuals with excess body weight.