Results from some observational studies suggest that higher whole grain (WG) intake is associated with lower risk of weight gain. Ovid Medline was used to conduct a literature search for observational studies and randomized controlled trials (RCTs) assessing WG food intake and weight status in adults. A meta-regression analysis of cross-sectional data from 12 observational studies (136,834 subjects) and a meta-analysis of nine RCTs (973 subjects) was conducted; six prospective cohort publications were qualitatively reviewed. Cross-sectional data meta-regression results indicate a significant, inverse correlation between WG intake and body mass index (BMI): weighted slope, -0.0141 kg/m2 per g/day of WG intake (95% confidence interval (CI): -0.0207, -0.0077; r = -0.526, p = 0.0001). Prospective cohort results generally showed inverse associations between WG intake and weight change with typical follow-up periods of five to 20 years. RCT meta-analysis results show a nonsignificant pooled standardized effect size of -0.049 kg (95% CI -0.297, 0.199, p = 0.698) for mean difference in weight change (WG versus control interventions). Higher WG intake is significantly inversely associated with BMI in observational studies but not RCTs up to 16 weeks in length; RCTs with longer intervention periods are warranted.
Keywords: body composition; body mass index; body weight; cross-sectional; meta-analysis; obesity; prospective cohorts; randomized controlled trials; whole grains.