Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) data gathered between 2007 and
2008 reveals that one in three children is either overweight or obese. This has
profound public health implications in terms of chronic disease prevention and
Dietary intake and physical activity are the
pillars of weight management. These factors play an important role in
influencing the way a child looks, particularly in terms of his weight.
Increased hours of TV watching, consumption of unfavorable foods, more snacking
and inadequate intake of vegetables and fruits have proved to have monstrous
effect on the health of the young population.
It must be
noted that previous studies have reported that children who eat vegetarian
foods are thinner and leaner in comparison to those who take non -vegetarian
The main purpose of this study is to examine the
link between being overweight and the intake of several food groups by children
weight measurements of 1764 children and adolescents, between the ages of 6-19
yrs who were students of 12th grade at 16 Seventh-Day Adventist
(Adventist) schools and 13 public schools in Southern California were taken.
106-item non-quantitative food frequency
questionnaire (FFQ) was used in the study to obtain dietary information.
regression models were employed to compute the risk of overweight in accordance
to the consumption of these foods.
questionnaire did not enquire about the number of hours of daily TV watching or
amount of hours spent in doing physical activity daily.
All of the
foods consumed (except diet soda and three non-conforming foods) were
categorized into seven food groups
by a Registered Dietitian -
• Grains (e.g. cereals, crackers, bread,
biscuit, muffin, pancakes, French toast, waffles, macaroni, noodles, spaghetti,
meat substitute products, granola bar, pop tart),
• Nuts (nuts and peanut butter),
• Fruits (e.g. apple, citrus, banana, other
fruits, canned fruits, raisins, dried fruits, orange juice, other fruit juice),
• Vegetables (e.g. vegetable salad, carrot sticks,
celery sticks, potatoes, green beans, refried beans, other beans, cooked
• Dairy (e.g. whole milk, chocolate milk,
cottage cheese, cheeses, yogurt, pudding, ice cream, frozen yogurt, milk
• Meats (e.g. eggs, real wieners,
hamburger patty, steak, roast beef, fried chicken, chicken, bacon, sausage
links, bologna, ham, pork chops, fish)
• Low nutrient-dense foods (LNDF) (e.g.
punch, donuts, sweet roll, chips, French fries, other fried potatoes, candy
bars, other candy bar, cookies, cake, pie, twinkie, popsicle).
of consumption for each of the food groups was computed and ranked using
quartiles, while tertiles were used for nuts.
Age and gender-
specific 85th percentile for BMI of the study population was used as
a cut-off point to identify children and adolescents as being overweight.
Results & Discussion
The frequency of
consumption of grains, nuts, vegetables and LNDF were inversely proportional to
the risk of being overweight.
revealed that specific plant-based food groups may have a protective role in
preventing weight increase among children and adolescents, while intake of
dairy products may be linked to weight increase.
and vegetables are both plant-based food groups, the researchers observed a
protective effect regarding weight gain only with the intake of vegetables, and
not with fruit group.
The study also
established an inverse association between nut consumption and risk of being
overweight in children and adolescents. Plausible reasons include increased
BMI, enhanced satiety and decreased consumption of other foods.
recommends reducedintake of fatty
dairy products and promotes the use of plant -based foods to prevent obesity in
children and adolescents. Therefore, plant-based foods should be encouraged in
the school food programs at all levels.
The risk of child and adolescent overweight is related to types of food
Vichuda et al; Nutrition Journal 2011.