Paper

International Journal of Obesity (2004) 28, 1569–1574. doi:10.1038/sj.ijo.0802795 Published online 5 October 2004

Changes in intake of fruits and vegetables in relation to risk of obesity and weight gain among middle-aged women

K He1, F B Hu2,3,4, G A Colditz3,4, J E Manson3,4,5, W C Willett2,3,4 and S Liu3,4,5

  1. 1Department of Preventive Medicine, The Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University, Chicago, IL, USA
  2. 2Department of Nutrition, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, MA, USA
  3. 3Department of Epidemiology, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, MA, USA
  4. 4The Channing Laboratory, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA
  5. 5Division of Preventive Medicine, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA

Correspondence: Dr K He, Department of Preventive Medicine, The Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University, 680 North Lake Shore Drive, Suite 1102, IL 60611-4402, Chicago, USA. E-mail: kahe@northwestern.edu

Received 4 April 2004; Revised 22 June 2004; Accepted 25 July 2004; Published online 5 October 2004.

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Abstract

OBJECTIVE: To examine the changes in intake of fruits and vegetables in relation to risk of obesity and weight gain among middle-aged women.

DESIGN: Prospective cohort study with 12 y of follow-up conducted in the Nurses' Health Study.

SUBJECTS: A total of 74 063 female nurses aged 38–63 y, who were free of cardiovascular disease, cancer, and diabetes at baseline in 1984.

MEASUREMENTS: Dietary information was collected using a validated food frequency questionnaire, and body weight and height were self-reported.

RESULTS: During the 12-y follow-up, participants tended to gain weight with aging, but those with the largest increase in fruit and vegetable intake had a 24% of lower risk of becoming obese (BMIgreater than or equal to30 kg/m2) compared with those who had the largest decrease in intake after adjustment for age, physical activity, smoking, total energy intake, and other lifestyle variables (relative risk (RR), 0.76; 95% confidence interval (CI), 0.69–0.86; P for trend <0.0001). For major weight gain (greater than or equal to25 kg), women with the largest increase in intake of fruits and vegetables had a 28% lower risk compared to those in the other extreme group (RR, 0.72; 95% CI, 0.55–0.93; P=0.01). Similar results were observed for changes in intake of fruits and vegetables when analyzed separately.

CONCLUSIONS: Our findings suggest that increasing intake of fruits and vegetables may reduce long-term risk of obesity and weight gain among middle-aged women.

Keywords:

fruits and vegetables, weight gain, prospective study

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