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Dietary Guidelines Associated With Lower Risk of Metabolic Syndrome

By Rosalie Marion Bliss
March 18, 2008

Based on a close look at the everyday eating habits of a large group of men and women, researchers have found that people whose diets were most similar to the 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGAs) were least likely to have metabolic syndrome. For the study, metabolic syndrome was defined as a condition occurring among people who have at least three of the following health risks: abdominal obesity, poor blood sugar control, high blood fats, low levels of HDL "good" cholesterol, and high blood pressure.

This dietary pattern research study was funded in part by the Agricultural Research Service (ARS), the chief scientific research agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

The lead co-author on the study was epidemiologist Paul Jacques with the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University in Boston, Mass. He and colleagues published the findings in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

A cause-and-effect relationship could not be shown between a healthier diet and lower prevalence of metabolic syndrome in this study, according to authors. But among the diet and health indicators of the more than 3,000 participants studied, the researchers found that those individuals with metabolic syndrome tended to consume a diet that was less consistent with the 2005 DGAs.

The sixth version of the DGAs, released early in 2005, is a departure from previous editions in that it emphasizes balancing calories and physical activity for weight management, stresses nutrient density, and recommends limiting trans fat intake, increasing whole grain and low-fat milk or milk-product intake, and consuming a greater variety of fruits and vegetables.

Read more about ARS research and the 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans in the March 2008 issue of Agricultural Research magazine.