- Present day processed food is high in refined
sugar, saturated fats and salt, and low in vitamins, minerals and fiber.
- Current study shows that following a
diet low in sugars with more of unsaturated fats and protein markedly
improves general as well as heart health.
- It is therefore important to follow
dietary trends closely to determine related health risks.
a diet high in minerals, fruits and vegetables and low in sugars and trans-fats
markedly reduces adverse cardiometabolic events, according to the The Västerbotten Intervention Programme
, an ongoing, population-based prospective study
in Northern Sweden.
The study may be echoing what most of us
may already know, but it is a large, longitudinal 10 year population based
scientific study with enough
evidence to substantiate the claims.
‘Increased ‘healthy diet’ scores significantly lowered body mass index (BMI), serum cholesterol and triglycerides and systolic blood pressure, all of which are risk factors for cardiometabolic related events.’
Aim of the Study
The authors feel that dietary factors are more important
determining longterm state of one's
than even body mass index (BMI)
, smoking and high blood pressure. It
thus, becomes important to monitor
closely the effects of dietary
trends over a prolonged period in a population and determine its influence
on the health of the population.
This is what the current study hoped to
do in a large population based study in Northern Sweden called the Västerbotten
Intervention Programme (VIP).
Methods of the Study
The VIP study from 1996-2014 involved
nearly 16,000 persons from Northern Sweden who had 2 visits spaced 10 years apart within 1996 and 2014 to assess the
effects of diet on them.
In fact, since 1985,
residents of Västerbotten County in northern Sweden with a total population
about 255,000 have been invited to their local health center to undergo
a medical examination when they turned 40, 50 and 60 years, with some centers also including the 30
year olds until 1996. Between 48-67% of the inhabitants have participated in
Based on the choice of diet, which could
namely the Healthy Diet score
(higher scores represented healthy choices) and Dietary Inflammatory Index (DII)
were calculated. A diet which reduced levels
of inflammation with lower DII scores is considered healthier and more
beneficial in general.
Observations and Findings of the Study
At the end of the study, the important
findings included the following:
- Interestingly, the youngest age
group (40 years) reported the largest proportion of decreased calorie
intake as well as the largest increase in dietary protein intake.
- The youngest age group also reported
the largest decrease in dietary carbohydrate intake.
- Interestingly, the oldest age group
reported the largest increase in dietary fat and saturated fat.
- Overall Healthy Diet scores and
Inflammatory Index scores did not vary though inter-group variations were
- Improved Healthy Diet scores were
associated with lower cardiac risk factors such as serum cholesterol
levels, BMI and systolic blood pressure but this association was not
observed with improved DII scores.
- Whole grain intake lowered
cardiometabolic risk factors.
sum up, a
healthier diet based on Nordic dietary recommendations
, veering towards low
carbohydrate and trans-fats and high in protein unsaturated fats, whole grains
fruits and vegetables markedly lowered
the cardiometabolic risk profile
and BMI at the second visit irrespective
of the baseline values at the start of the study.
What is Cardiometabolic Risk?
determines the chances of
one suffering from heart disease,
Factors that increase cardiometabolic
risk include smoking,
high cholesterol, unhealthy diet,
lack of exercise,
high blood pressure and a high BMI with a large waist circumference.
Addressing these issues, most of which
are modifiable and lie in choices that we make, could go a long way in improving the
general as well as cardiac health.
This has been a large-scale longitudinal study involving a huge
population with minimal selection bias, and the results underline the importance of
closely monitoring the effects of dietary habits in the population so that
correctional steps can
be taken sooner.
Though individual choices matter, it is
very important for the administration to get involved and propagate the message
about health risks involved in certain dietary choices and to clamp down heavily on the food industry if
safety standards and precautions are not complied with.
- Nordic Nutrition Recommendations 2012: Integrating nutrition and physical activity - (http://norden.diva-portal.org/smash/record.jsf?pid=diva2%3A704251&dswid=6267)
- Nordic Nutrition Recommendations 2012 - (http://norden.diva-portal.org/smash/get/diva2:704251/FULLTEXT01.pdf)
- Cardiometabolic Risk: What is it and what can I do about it? - (https://www.omh.ny.gov/omhweb/psyckes_medicaid/brochures/cardio.html)