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Whole-grain consumption, dietary fibre intake and body mass index in the Netherlands cohort study



To assess the association of whole-grain and (cereal) fibre intake with body mass index (BMI) and with the risk of being overweight (BMI25) or obese (BMI30 kg m−2).


A total of 2078 men and 2159 women, aged 55–69 years, were included in the analysis, after exclusion of subjects with diagnosed cancer or deceased within 1 year after baseline or with missing dietary information.


We found an inverse association between whole-grain consumption and BMI and risk of overweight and obesity in men as well as women. The association in men was stronger than in women; the risk of being obese as compared to normal weight was 10% (95% CI: 2–16%) and 4% (95% CI: 1–7%) lower for each additional gram of (dry) grain consumption in men and women, respectively. Fibre and cereal fibre intake were inversely associated with BMI in men only. Associations were similar after exclusion of likely under- and overreporters of energy. A retrospective analysis of baseline fibre intake and weight gain after the age of 20 years also showed a slight inverse association.


Whole-grain consumption may protect against becoming overweight or obese; however, the cross-sectional design of the study does not allow conclusions about the causality of the association.

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We are indebted to the participants of this study and further wish to thank C Rubingh for additional data analysis, Dr L Schouten, S van de Crommert, H Brants, J Nelissen, C de Zwart, M Moll, W van Dijk, M Jansen and A Pisters for assistance and D van der Doest, H van Montfort and T van Moergastel for programming assistance. This study was funded by the General Mills. The sponsor did not at any time contribute to the analysis, interpretation and reporting of the data and was not involved in formulation of the conclusions. Publication of the results was contractually agreed a priori.

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Correspondence to R A Goldbohm.

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Contributors: RAG and PAvdB were responsible for the study concept and design, and also for the acquisition of the data. LPLvdV, RAG and LMCvdB were responsible for the analysis and interpretation of data. LPLvdV and RAG drafted the manuscript. All authors took part in critical revision of the manuscript. Statistical expertise was provided by RAG. Funding was obtained by RAG and PAvdB.

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van de Vijver, L., van den Bosch, L., van den Brandt, P. et al. Whole-grain consumption, dietary fibre intake and body mass index in the Netherlands cohort study. Eur J Clin Nutr 63, 31–38 (2009).

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  • whole-grain consumption
  • body weight
  • obesity
  • dietary fibre

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