Objective: Despite the alarming increase in the prevalence of obesity, epidemiologic studies that prospectively examine the fruit and vegetable consumption and other lifestyle factors in relation to weight gain (WG) are still insufficient. We explored the associations between fruit and vegetable intake and WG over a 10-year period in an adult Mediterranean population.
Methods and procedures: We performed a 10-year follow-up study with healthy participants (n = 206) aged 15-80 years at baseline in 1994, who participated in a nutrition survey in Valencia, Spain. Data on diet, lifestyle factors, and body weight were obtained in 1994 and 2004 using a food frequency questionnaire (FFQ) and direct measurements.
Results: The average WG over the study period was 3.41 (s.d. 6.9) kg. In multivariate analyses, participants in the third quartile of fruit intake at baseline in 1994 had lower risk of WG> or =3.41 kg compared to those in the lowest quartile (oddsratio (OR) = 0.31, 95% confidence interval (CI), 0.11-0.85; P trend = 0.044). Regarding vegetable intake, the risk of WG was lowest in participants of the fourth quartile (>333 g/day), which had an 84% reduced risk of gaining 3.41 kg weight (OR = 0.18, 95% CI, 0.05-0.66; P trend = 0.017). When the intake of fruits and vegetables was combined, the risk of WG decreased across quartiles, with the lowest risk among those in the fourth quartile (OR = 0.22, 95% CI, 0.06-0.81; P trend = 0.022). Further adjustment for an increased intake of fruits and vegetables over the past 10 years reported by participants in 2004 did not appreciably alter the observed ORs.
Discussion: Dietary patterns associated with a high intake of fruits and vegetables in Mediterranean populations may reduce long-term risk of subsequent WG and obesity among adults.