Health Studies

Med Diet Improves Blood Sugar Control & Heart Disease Risk Factors in Type 2 Diabetes

Chinese researchers analyzed data from nine different studies with 1178 type 2 diabetes patients being treated with the Mediterranean diet. Compared with those on a control diet (which ranged from their usual diet, to a low fat diet, to a high carb diet, to the American Diabetes Association Diet), those on a Mediterranean diet had improved blood sugar control (hemoglobin A1c, fasting glucose, and fasting insulin), improved BMI and weight loss, lower total cholesterol, triglycerides (a type of fat in the blood), and blood pressure, and improved higher HDL (good) cholesterol.
European Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2015 Nov;69:1200-1208. (R Huo et al.) [published online 2014 Nov 4]

Eating More Fruits and Vegetables Can Help You Lose Weight

Science and common sense tell us that eating a wide variety of fruits and vegetables is one of the best defenses against obesity and weight gain. To quantify this relationship, Harvard researchers analyzed the eating patterns and weight changes in over 130,000 adults for over 20 years. Eating vegetables of all kinds was linked to a 0.25 pound weight loss per daily serving over four years, while eating fruit of any kind was linked to a 0.53 pound weight loss per daily serving over four years. Upon closer inspection, they found that this relationship was strongest for berries, apples, pears, tofu, soy, cauliflower, and cruciferous and green leafy vegetables. On the other hand, starchy vegetables like peas, corn, and potatoes were associated with weight gain. The researchers concluded that these “findings support benefits of increased fruit and vegetable consumption for preventing long-term weight gain.”
PLOS Medicine. 2015 Sept 22. [Epub] (Bertoia ML et al.)

Plant-based Diets Improve Heart Disease Markers in Overweight Kids

Plant-based diets have proven effective at reducing heart disease markers in adults, but with a large proportion of overweight and obese children, experts wonder if dietary interventions are effective on kids as well. In a small study in the Midwestern US, twenty-eight overweight and obese children (average age = 15) and their parents were assigned to either a plant-based vegan (no animal products at all), no-added fat diet (with only moderate avocado and nuts) or an American Heart Association diet (high in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, but also includes low fat dairy, some plant oils, lean meat and fish, and permits some refined grains) for four weeks. The plant-based group significantly improved nine different risk factors of heart disease (including improved blood pressure, cholesterol, and weight), while the American Heart Association Diet significantly improved four risk factors.
The Journal of Pediatrics. 2015 Feb 11. [Epub ahead of print] (Macknin M et al.)

Nutrient Profiles of Vegans Point to Lowest BMI

When researchers at Loma Linda University conducted a cross-sectional study of 71,715 subjects from the Adventist Health Study 2 to compare nutrient intakes between dietary patterns characterized by consumption or exclusion of meat and dairy products, they found a clear connection between diet type and weight among five groups: meat-eaters, semi-vegetarians, pescatarians, lacto-ovo vegetarians, and vegans.  Vegans were found to have the lowest average BMI, while meat-eaters showed the highest, along with the highest intake of heart-disease related fatty acids. Vegans also had the lowest occurrence of obesity (9%) compared to 33.3% of meat-eaters. The average age of study participants was 59.
Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. August 2013. (Rizzo, Jaceldo-Sigl, Sabate, Fraser.)

Med Diet Healthy and Affordable

A study published in the Journal of Hunger and Environmental Nutrition helps debunk the myth that the Mediterranean Diet is cost prohibitive for families on tight budgets. The Rhode Island Community Food Bank sponsored a six-week cooking program focused on plant-based cooking with olive oil. Study authors followed the 63 participants for six months to determine whether their grocery shopping and cooking habits changed as a result of the program. At the end of the study participants had decreased their total food expenses, purchases of meat, and consumption of "junk" food. Results also suggest that eating 2 to 3 vegetarian meals per week increases fruit and vegetable consumption and helps with weight control.
Journal of Hunger and Environmental Nutrition. March 2013; 8(1). [Epub 2013 March 14] [Flynn, Reinert & Schiff]

Med Diet Beneficial for Diabetes Management

Researchers in the United Kingdom reviewed results from 20 previous studies that compared the effects of seven different diets on 3,073 people with type 2 diabetes. They discovered that the Mediterranean Diet, as well as low-carbohydrate, low-glycemic index, and high-protein diets all helped subjects control blood sugar. The Mediterranean Diet also contributed to weight loss and increased levels of HDL (“good” cholesterol). Overall, researchers concluded that these four diets should be considered in the overall strategy of diabetes management.
American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2013 March. [Epub 2013 January 30] [Olubukola et al.]

Med Diet Assessment Tool Captures Obesity Risk

Spanish researchers involved with the PREDIMED Trial wanted to determine whether a 14-item Mediterranean Diet assessment tool could be used as a quicker and less expensive alternative to a 137-item food frequency questionnaire in predicting obesity risk. They found that the 14-items, considered those most typical of a traditional Mediterranean Diet, did indeed correlate to various obesity markers. High consumption of nuts and low consumption of sweetened sodas were most strongly associated with reduced likelihood of obesity.
PloS One. 2012; 7(8):e43134. [Epub 2012 Aug 14] [Martinez-González et al.]

Sugar-Sweetened Beverages and Obesity in Costa Rica

Commercially available sugar-sweetened beverages have not been traditionally consumed as part of the Costa Rican diet.  Because of the rising obesity rates in Latin American countries, researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health designed a study to determine the association between consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages and obesity in Hispanic adults in Costa Rica.  The study involved more than 2000 adults and compared sugar-sweetened beverage consumption to BMI and skinfold thickness.  Overall, higher consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages was associated with increased measures of adiposity and increased BMI in Costa Rican adults.
Public Health Nutrition, August 2012; 15(8): 1347-1354 (Rhee J et al.)

Fast Food Restaurants -- and Childhood Obesity -- Boom in China

This report documents the problem of childhood obesity in China.  One of the key contributing factors is the consumption of fast food.  Fast food establishments are growing rapidly in China.  Eating at McDonald’s is convenient for Chinese families and also signifies social status.
International Journal of Cardiology. 2012 June 14;157(3):315-317. (Cheng)

Green Tea May Aid Weight Control

Chinese researchers seeking to evaluate the effect of green tea in combination with inulin for potential impact on body weight and fat mass asked 30 obese and overweight adults to drink either regular tea or catechin-rich green tea with inulin, for six weeks.  Researchers concluded that continuous intake of green tea and inulin may support weight management, and that the positive effects continued were sustained two weeks after ending consumption.
British Journal of Nutrition.  2012 Mar; 107:749-754  (Yang et al.)

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