Eating just a little bit more fibre could have a big impact in trimming the waistlines of young adults, according to new research from the University of Southern California.
In this study, the investigators had 85 overweight boys and girls 11 to 17 years old fill out a questionnaire on their eating habits, and then report on their diet again two years later.
The investigators focused on changes in belly fat because wider waistlines are associated with increased risk of type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
Researchers noted that during adolescents the diets of many young people tended to decrease in nutritional quality. On average, fibre intake fell by 3 grams per 1,000 calories consumed in over half the study participants.
Teens who increased their fibre intake during the study period saw a 4 percent drop in their belly fat while those who ate less fibre had a 21 percent increase in abdominal obesity.
The recommended fibre intake for young adults is 14 grams per 1,000 calories consumed, or about 25 to 30 grams per day.
Increasing fibre intake by six grams a day - the amount found in one-half cup (125 ml) of beans - could have a significant impact on abdominal obesity in young adults, advised this study's author.
Anyone who wants to boost fibre intake should examine the Nutrition Facts Panel instead of relying on front-of-package claims like "multigrain" or "whole wheat" which can be misleading.
This study was published in the November 2009 issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
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