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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service


Location: Children's Nutrition Research Center

Title: Relationship of fruit and vegetable intake with adiposity: a systematic review

item Ledoux, Tracey
item Hingle, Melanie
item Baranowski, Tom

Submitted to: Obesity Reviews
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 7/14/2010
Publication Date: 5/1/2011
Citation: Ledoux, T., Hingle, M., Baranowski, T. 2011. Relationship of fruit and vegetable intake with adiposity: a systematic review. Obesity Reviews. 12(5):e143-e150.

Interpretive Summary: Most obesity prevention interventions have targeted increased fruit and vegetable (FV) consumption since FV are low in calories. Reviews of the epidemiological and nutritional literatures among children revealed no relationship between FV intake and adiposity; however, these reviews did not include adults and did not consider the methods used in the studies. This manuscript included longitudinal and experimental studies (which allow stronger inference) among adults and children. In general, there is little evidence that higher FV intake is related to adiposity among children. Among adults, the relationship appears to be weak and only when increased FV intake was accompanied by lower caloric intake. More longitudinal and experimental research is needed to clarify these relationships.

Technical Abstract: Fruit and vegetable (FV) intake has been proposed to protect against obesity. The purpose of this paper was to assess the FV consumption to adiposity relationship. Twenty-three publications were included. Inclusion criteria: longitudinal or experimental designs; FV intake tested in relation to adiposity; child, adolescent or adult participants; published in English-language peer-reviewed journals. Exclusion criteria: dietary pattern and cross-sectional designs; participants with health concerns. Experimental studies found increased FV consumption (in conjunction with other behaviors) contributed to reduced adiposity among overweight or obese adults, but no association was shown among children. Longitudinal studies among overweight adults found greater F and/or V consumption was associated with slower weight gain, but only half of child longitudinal studies found a significant inverse association. Limitations in methods prevented a thorough examination of the role of increased FV intake alone or mechanisms of effect. An inverse relationship between FV intake and adiposity among overweight adults appears weak; this relationship among children is unclear. Research needs to clarify the nature of, and mechanisms for, the effects of FV consumption on adiposity. Whether increases in FV intake in isolation from lower caloric intake or increased physical activity will result in declines or slower growth in adiposity remains unclear.

Last Modified: 07/26/2017
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