1 August 2011

News Briefs

Potato, sugary drinks and meat linked to long-term weight gain
‘An average adult (in the US) gains about one pound (0.5 kg) per year. Because the weight gain is so gradual and occurs over many years, it has been difficult for scientists and for individuals themselves to understand the specific factors that may be responsible,’ says Associate Prof Dariush Mozaffarian.

In a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine Harvard researchers report that modest changes in specific foods and beverages, physical activity, TV-watching, and sleep duration were strongly linked with long-term weight gain. Changes in diet, in particular, had the strongest associations with differences in weight gain.

French fries

The foods associated with the greatest weight gain included potato chips, other potatoes, sugar-sweetened beverages, unprocessed meats and processed meats. Foods associated with less weight gain when their consumption was actually increased included vegetables, whole grains, fruits, nuts and yogurt. The most useful dietary changes to focus on for preventing long-term weight gain appeared to be:

  • Improving carbohydrate quality.
  • Eating more minimally processed foods.
‘Small dietary and other lifestyle changes can together make a big difference – for bad or good,’ said Mozaffarian. ‘This makes it easy to gain weight unintentionally, but also demonstrates the tremendous opportunity for prevention. A handful of the right lifestyle changes will go a long way.’

In Australia we are lucky enough to have the Carisma potato which has a low GI and is lower in total carbohydrate than most other varieties of potato. It's an important innovation that may help turn the global obesity pandemic around. However, you still have to be moderate with portion size (remember, it's a quarter of your dinner plate), say no thanks to fries and hold the sour cream and butter.

Better BGLs in low GL vs low fat weight loss diet

Dr David Ludwig

The findings of randomised trial comparing lifestyle modification programs for weight loss in adults with type 2 diabetes in Diabetes Research and Clinical Practice reports that ‘prescribing a calorie restricted low-GL diet to overweight and obese adults with type 2 diabetes resulted in greater glycemic control than was achieved with a diet with the same amount of Calories/kilojoules but that was low in fat. The advantage of the low-GL diet for improving HbA1c was apparently not attributable to weight change or calorie restriction, as these were equivalent between groups. These results add to a growing literature on the benefits of following a low-GL diet for diabetes control.’

Better HbAIc follows better weight loss in vegan vs ADA diet study

Dr Neal Barnard

Decreasing intake of high GI foods can help reduce body weight, according to a study conducted by PCRM in the Journal of Nutrition. In the 22-week randomised trial, 99 adults with type 2 diabetes were placed on either a vegan diet or the 2003 American Diabetes Association (ADA) diet. The vegan group proved better at controlling BGLs and cholesterol and achieved a greater reduction in the overall GI of their diet. After adjusting for fibre, fat, and calorie intake etc., dietary GI predicted weight loss, which in turn predicted lower HbA1c levels. ‘A low-GI diet appears to be one of the determinants of success of a vegan or ADA diet in reducing body weight among people with type 2 diabetes,’ conclude the authors.

How to feed a growing planet

Julian Cribb

Julian Cribb’s The Coming Famine: The Global Food Crisis and What We Can Do to Avoid It covers the major threats to our food supply. Cribb urges rebalancing our diets toward foods with a smaller carbon footprint and advocates ‘increased consumption of vegetables, fruits and grains and decreased consumption of high energy foods in a balanced healthy diet of the sort your great-grandmother would probably have approved of.’ In The Elephants in the Kitchen he writes: ‘As we approach the mid-century peak in food demand it becomes ever more vital to … find ways to moderate our consumption in line with what the Earth, and our own bodies, can support.’ Yes, it’s a ‘wake-up call’ book packed with facts and figures, but it also comes with some practical ‘What can I do?’ suggestions – simple things such as eating less meat, reducing waste and educating our kids about the value of food. Read more about it on the CSIRO and Amazon websites.

Online update

Lisa Taylor
Lisa Taylor

#1 A new blog that’s just the recipe for women with GDM After having gestational diabetes (GDM), Lisa Taylor, the Mum behind Gestational Diabetes Recipes, created the site (with dietitian Natasha Jo Leader) because she loves food. With this recipe blog, she hopes women are able to turn their diagnosis of GDM into a more positive experience that allows them to continue to enjoy delicious food and their pregnancy but be mindful of the importance of healthy eating and lifestyle for the long term for both themselves and their children.
Try Lisa’s recipes here.

#2 www.diabeteschoices.org.uk is a round-up of diabetes news and research that’s updated every weekday. Founder/editor, Christine Michael, had the idea for this website after many years’ experience as a journalist, editor and author writing about weight management, health and diet. More recently she has specialised in writing about diabetes attending conferences, patient groups and diabetes education sessions, as well as meeting and talking with many people with type 2 diabetes. Diabetes Choices provides healthy eating information, recipes and food ‘best buys’ and summaries of the latest research.


Anonymous said...

Having your title as "Potato, sugary drinks and meat linked to long-term weight gain" this brands all meat as bad.

The study included unprocessed red meats (0.95 lb), and processed meats (0.93 lb).

The study should have look at each food item separately rather than throwing them altogether and labelling everything in that group as bad. Say they had eaten fruit with potato chips and sugary drinks, I bet you they would have still put on weight. Ha, then they would conclude fruit promotes weight gain? It looks like they cherry picked their 'method' to get results in support that meat is as 'bad' as processed meats and junk foods. Not a very strong study at all.

hermin said...

Hi Anonymous,
It is unfortunate that you were not willing to disclose your identity (?) but i think you were making a good point. I would be very curious about the cooking method of the "unprocessed meats" - if they said the meat was part of the "main meal" then was it fried, stir-fried or grilled with some gravy on top? If they add some white sauce or mayo, would they count them separately (not as part of the meat)?

hermin said...

For big fans of potatoes: if you really cannot live without sour cream, you could substitute them with plain yoghurt - to trim the fat without sacrificing the taste.

Haley said...


Your link for diabeteschoices doesn't work and gives error. Cheers