You Will Be What You Eat
Mon Sep 23, 2:07 PM ET
By Lisa Girard
HealthScoutNews Reporter

MONDAY, Sept. 23 (HealthScoutNews) -- Want to know what your body will look like -- buff and trim or pear-shaped and flabby -- 10 years from now?



Take a look at what's on your plate today.

Researchers from Boston University examined the eating habits of 737 women over a 12-year period. Their findings: Those who ate a low-fat, healthy diet were much less likely to become overweight than those whose diet was dominated by animal and vegetable fats, sweets, meats and sweetened beverages.

The results of the study appear in the September issue of the Journal of the American Dietetic Association.

At the start of the research, the group of non-overweight women responded to a 145-item food frequency questionnaire. Based on their responses, they were put into five categories: "Heart Healthy," "Light Eating," "Wine and Moderate Eating," "High Fat" and "Empty Calorie."

Habitual dietary intake was examined at the baseline and documented periodically over the 12 years. The results showed the risk of becoming overweight was 29 percent overall, ranging from 24 percent "Heart Healthy" group, to 41 percent in the "Empty Calorie" cluster.

Women in the "Empty Calorie" group ate a diet rich in sweets and fats with fewer servings of nutrient-dense fruits, vegetables and lean food choices. Meanwhile the "Heart Healthy" eaters had a more varied diet and consumed a higher percentage of vegetables, fruits, low-fat milk, legumes and refined grains. "Heart Healthy" eaters were also more likely to engage in other healthy behaviors, such as not smoking and exercising more frequently.

"We tend to think about diet, physical activity and smoking in isolation, but they are probably heavily linked," says study co-author Barbara Millen, associate dean for research and a professor of public health and medicine at Boston University's School of Public Health.

"If your diet is pretty good, you're more likely to be a nonsmoker and more likely to be someone who exercises. It's a combination of factors that contributes to overall health," she says.

The study showed that women in the "Light Eating" and "Wine and Moderate Eating" groups were more likely to have fluctuation in their weight over the 12-year period, with 30 percent in the "Light Eating" group becoming overweight. Millen attributes this to chronic dieting in these groups, as well as a higher fat and saturated fat intake in comparison to those in the "Heart Healthy" section.

Also noteworthy was that women in the "Empty Calorie" segment tended to be younger and more likely to smoke than women in the healthier eating groups.

"Women who are older and have been treated medically for certain problems tend to be more conscious of what they eat," says Millen. "In younger age people, those influences aren't in effect yet. They're relatively healthy, so they don't think about what they eat as much."

Susan Moores, a spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association, says that although the study results may not be surprising, they should remind health professionals to recommend a full, healthy diet to their patients and clients, and not just focus on certain areas of a person's diet, such as fat or calcium intake.

"We tend in the nutritional field and the health field to look at increments of diet, focusing on specific things when we should be looking at the whole diet," Moores says.

"What a health professional can take from this study is that if a patient or client is eating mostly empty calories, unless they change their eating habits, over the years they will gain weight," she adds.

The Boston researchers note that excess weight and obesity are major public health problems in the United States. More than half of all U.S. adults are overweight and 22 percent are obese -- conditions that can lead to cardiovascular disease, hypertension, diabetes, gallbladder disease, cancer, arthritis and pulmonary dysfunction.

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"It was once written "To thine own self be true". But how do we know who we really are? Every man must confront the monster within himself, if he is ever to find peace without. .." Outer Limits(Monster)