Whole-grain intake favorably affects markers of systemic inflammation in obese children: a randomized controlled crossover clinical trial

Mol Nutr Food Res. 2014 Jun;58(6):1301-8. doi: 10.1002/mnfr.201300582. Epub 2014 Jan 30.


Scope: Whole-grain foods have been reported to affect serum levels of inflammatory cytokines. However, we are aware of no study examining the effect of whole-grain intake on inflammatory biomarkers among children. The present study aimed to determine the effect of whole-grain intake on serum levels of inflammatory biomarkers in overweight or obese children.

Methods and results: In this randomized crossover clinical trial, 44 overweight or obese girls aged 8-15 years participated. After a 2-week run-in period, subjects were randomly assigned to either whole-grain or control groups. Subjects in the whole-grain group were given a list of whole-grain foods and were asked to obtain half of their needed servings of grains from whole-grain foods each day for 6 weeks. Individuals in the control group were also given a list of whole-grain foods and were asked not to consume any of these foods during the intervention phase of the study. A 4-week washout period was applied following which subjects were crossed over to the alternate arm for an additional 6 weeks. Fasting blood samples were taken before and after each phase of the study to quantify markers of systemic inflammation. Mean age, weight, and BMI of study participants were 11.2 ± 1.49 years, 51.2 ± 10.2 kg, and 23.5 ± 2.5 kg/m(2) , respectively. No significant effect of whole-grain intake on weight and BMI was seen compared with the control group. We found a significant effect of whole-grain intake on serum levels of high-sensitive C-reactive protein (-21.8 versus +12.1%, p = 0.03), soluble intercellular adhesion molecule-1 (-28.4 versus +6.3%, p = 0.02), serum amyloid A (-17.4 versus +9.9%, p = 0.02), and leptin (-9.7 versus +39.2%, p = 0.02) after 6 weeks. A trend toward the significant effect of whole-grain intake on serum levels of soluble vascular cell adhesion molecule-1 (-36.2% versus -7.8%, p = 0.07) was also observed.

Conclusion: This study provides evidence supporting the beneficial effects of whole-grain foods on biomarkers of systemic inflammation in obese children.

Keywords: Children; Obesity; Systemic inflammation; Whole grain.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adipokines / blood
  • Adolescent
  • Biomarkers / blood*
  • Body Mass Index
  • Body Weight
  • C-Reactive Protein / metabolism
  • Child
  • Cross-Over Studies
  • Diet Records
  • Dietary Fiber / administration & dosage*
  • Edible Grain*
  • Energy Intake
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Inflammation / blood*
  • Intercellular Adhesion Molecule-1 / blood
  • Life Style
  • Obesity / blood*
  • Overweight / blood
  • Vascular Cell Adhesion Molecule-1 / blood
  • Waist Circumference


  • Adipokines
  • Biomarkers
  • Dietary Fiber
  • Vascular Cell Adhesion Molecule-1
  • Intercellular Adhesion Molecule-1
  • C-Reactive Protein