Fruits and vegetables: healthy, but not necessarily weight loss

Eating more fruits and vegetables is often recommended for weight loss because they make you feel full, but this can be a dead end, according to a new study from the University of Alabama at Birmingham, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

According to the USDA’s My Plate Initiative, the recommended daily serving for adults is 1,5-2 cups of fruit and 2-3 cups of vegetables. Katherine Kaiser, PhD, AUB Public Health Faculty Instructor, and a team of researchers including Andrew W. Brown, PhD, Michelle M. Moen Brown, PhD, James M. Shikani, Dr. Ph. and David B. Ellison, PhD, and Purdue University researchers conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis of data from more than 1200 participants in seven randomized controlled trials focusing on increasing the amount of fruits and vegetables in the diet and the effect on weight loss. The results showed that increasing fruit and vegetable intake alone did not reduce weight.

“Overall, all of the studies we reviewed show almost no effect on weight loss,” Kaiser says. “So I don’t think you need to eat more to lose weight. If you add more fruits and vegetables to regular food, you are unlikely to lose weight. While many people believe fruit can make you gain weight, Kaiser says this has not been seen with the dosage.

“It turns out that if you eat more fruits and vegetables, you don’t gain weight, which is good because it allows you to get more vitamins and fiber,” she says. While she acknowledges the health benefits of fruits and vegetables, their weight loss benefits are still in question.

“In the general context of a healthy diet, reducing energy helps to reduce weight, and to reduce energy, you need to reduce the number of calories consumed,” says Kaiser. – People think that fiber-rich vegetables and fruits will replace less healthy food and start the weight loss mechanism; our research, however, shows that this does not happen in people who simply start eating more fruits and vegetables.”

“In public health, we want to give people positive and uplifting messages, and telling people to eat more fruits and vegetables is much more positive than just saying “eat less.” Unfortunately, it seems that if people start eating more fruits and vegetables, but do not reduce the total amount of food, the weight does not change, ”said senior researcher David W. Ellison, PhD, dean of natural sciences at the UAB Institute of Public Health.

Because this recommendation is so common, Kaiser hopes the findings will make a difference.

There are many studies where people spend a lot of money trying to find out how to increase their intake of fruits and vegetables, and there are many benefits from this; but weight loss is not one of them,” says Kaiser. “I think working on a more comprehensive lifestyle change would be the best use of money and time.”

Kaiser says more research is needed to understand how different foods might interact for weight loss.

“We need to do a mechanistic study to understand this, then we can inform the public about what to do if there is a problem of weight loss. Simplified information is not very effective,” she says.


Leave a Reply