Whole grain and fiber consumption are associated with lower body weight measures in US adults: National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 1999-2004

Nutr Res. 2010 Dec;30(12):815-22. doi: 10.1016/j.nutres.2010.10.013.


This study examined the association of whole grain consumption with body weight measures and prevalence of overweight/obesity in a recent, nationally representative sample of adults. A secondary analysis of 1999-2004 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) data was conducted using adults 19 to 50 years of age (y) (n = 7,039) and 51+ y (n = 6,237). Participants were categorized by whole grain consumption: ≥ 0 to <0.6, ≥ 0.6 to <1.5, ≥ 1.5 to <3.0, and ≥ 3.0 servings/day. Main outcome measures included body mass index (BMI), waist circumference (WC), and prevalence of overweight/obesity. Sample weights were applied and the number and percentages of adults in whole grain consumption groups were determined. Least-square means and standard errors were calculated for body weight measures. Two regression models were developed and compared. Model 1 covariates included age, gender, ethnicity, and total energy intake; Model 2 was extended to include cereal fiber. Trend analysis was conducted to test for differences between least-square means. Significance was set at P ≤ .05. Adults 19-50 and 51+ y consumed a mean of 0.63 and 0.77 servings of whole grains/day, respectively. A significant trend was observed in both age groups for increased consumption of whole grains with lower BMI, WC, and percentage overweight/obese (Model 1); however, a significant trend was not observed when cereal fiber was added as a covariate (Model 2). Results confirm overall whole grain intake well below recommendations, and adults who consumed the most servings of whole grains had lower body weight measures. Results also suggest that fiber in whole grain foods may mediate associations with weight measures in adults. Intake of whole grain foods should be encouraged by health professionals.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Body Mass Index
  • Body Weight*
  • Dietary Fiber / administration & dosage*
  • Dietary Fiber / therapeutic use
  • Edible Grain*
  • Food Handling
  • Humans
  • Least-Squares Analysis
  • Middle Aged
  • Nutrition Policy
  • Nutrition Surveys
  • Obesity / epidemiology*
  • Obesity / etiology
  • Obesity / prevention & control
  • Prevalence
  • Regression Analysis
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Waist Circumference
  • Young Adult