Better diet quality helps slow weight gain in young women
Young women who follow better diets tend to gain less weight over time, a recent study has found.
Drawing from the Australian Longitudinal Study on Women’s Health, researchers enrolled 4,083 young women (aged 27–31 years) with healthy baseline body mass index (≥18.5 to <25 kg/m2). The Australian Recommended Food Score (ARFS) and the Fruit and Vegetable Index (FAVI) were used to evaluate diet quality. Weight change was tracked over 6 years of follow-up.
The average weight gained over the follow-up period was 3.5±6.7 kg. Both diet quality inventories showed low scores. The mean ARFS score was 29.3±9.2 out of a maximum of 74, while the average FAVI score was 73.1±44.2 out of a maximum of 333. The total daily energy intake was 6,848.5±2,620.9 kJ.
Categorizing the women according to ARFS tertiles revealed differences in weight gain: 4.1±6.8, 3.6±6.5 and 3.7±6.7 kg for the lowest, middle, and top tertiles, respectively (p=0.04).
A similar trend was found for other health habits. For instance, there were significantly more current smokers in the lowest tertile than in the middle and top tertiles of ARFS (19.8 percent vs 12.66 percent and 12.6 percent; p<0.00). Similarly, more women in the highest category of ARFS engaged in high physical activity (p<0.00).
Weight gain was likewise different across tertiles of FAVI scores: 4.9±7.3, 3.8±6.3, and 3.5±6.7 kg for the first, second, and third tertiles, respectively (p=0.00).
“[C]onsuming a diet that aligns more closely with recommendations in the national dietary guidelines, including consumption of plenty of vegetables and fruit, may help to slow the rate of weight gain,” said researchers.
“Further research is needed over a longer follow-up period, and in other populations to further examine the relationship between diet quality and weight change,” they added.