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


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 (BMI≥30 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 (≥25 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.

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This work was supported by the research grant CA87969 from the National Institutes of Health. We are indebted to the participants of the Nurses' Health Study for their continuing participation and cooperation.

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Correspondence to K He.

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He, K., Hu, F., Colditz, G. et al. Changes in intake of fruits and vegetables in relation to risk of obesity and weight gain among middle-aged women. Int J Obes 28, 1569–1574 (2004).

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  • fruits and vegetables
  • weight gain
  • prospective study

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