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Waist Circumference Can Signal a SyndromeBy Rosalie Bliss
June 7, 2004
A close look at the everyday eating habits of a group of healthy men and women showed that those who ate the greatest amounts of white bread per year had three times greater increases in waist circumference than their healthier-eating counterparts. The dietary pattern research study was funded by the Agricultural Research Service, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's chief scientific research agency.
Nutritional epidemiologists P. Kirstin Newby and Katherine Tucker, with the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University, in Boston, Mass., conducted the study.
The scientists looked at the food consumption habits and physical health measures of about 500 people. Using a seven-day dietary record, the scientists derived five dietary patterns and correlated each participant to one of them. These dietary patterns were labeled "healthy," "white bread," "alcohol," "sweets" and "meat and potatoes."
Volunteers in the "white bread" group consumed about 16 percent of their daily calories as white bread or refined grains, which is almost five times more than was consumed in the "healthy" group. While those in the "healthy" cluster gained an average 1/6-inch in waist circumference annually, those in the "white bread" cluster gained close to half an inch annually.
Abdominal weight gain and corresponding increase in waist circumference contribute more than does overall weight to the development of "metabolic syndrome." This condition is noted by a combination of abdominal obesity, high triglycerides, high blood pressure and poor blood sugar control, all of which increase risk for heart disease and diabetes.
The study's authors concluded that eating a diet high in fruits, vegetables, reduced-fat dairy products and whole grains--and low in red and processed meat, refined grains, fast food and soda--is associated with smaller gains in both waist circumference and body mass index.