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Deadliest Diets: These Two Eating Patterns can Increase the Risk of Death Featured

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seniors-eating-desertTwo specific eating patterns increase the risk of death for older adults, according to results from a 10-year study on dietary patterns and health.

Compared to people who ate healthy foods, women and men in their 70s had a 40% higher risk of death if they got most of their calories from sweets, desserts, or  high-fat dairy foods.

Deadliest Diet Study

Researchers from the University of Maryland monitored the eating patterns of 2,582 adults aged 70 to 79. They found that these diets fell into six patterns or clusters.

After adjusting for risk factors such as age, race, sex, physical activity, smoking, total calories and education, "the High-Fat Dairy Products cluster and the Sweets and Desserts cluster still showed significantly higher risk of mortality than the Healthy Foods cluster," according to the study authors.

The six dietary patterns were:seniordessert

  • Healthy Foods: Higher intake of low-fat dairy products, fruit, whole grains, poultry, fish, and vegetables. Lower intake of meat, fried foods, sweets, high-energy drinks, and added fat.
  • Sweets and Desserts: Higher intake of doughnuts, cake, cookies, pudding, chocolate, and candy. Lower intake of fruit, fish and other seafood, and dark green vegetables.
  • High-Fat Dairy Products: Higher intake of ice cream, cheese, and 2% and whole milk and yogurt. Lower intake of poultry, low-fat dairy products, rice, and pasta.
  • Refined Grains: Higher intake of refined grains (such as pancakes, waffles, breads, muffins, and cooked cereals such as oatmeal) and processed meat (such as bacon, sausage, ham, and other lunchmeats). Lower intake of liquor, breakfast cereals, and whole grains.
  • Meat, Fried Foods, and Alcohol: Higher intake of beer, liquor, fried chicken, mayonnaise/salad dressings, high-energy density drinks, nuts, snacks, rice/pasta dishes, and added fat. Lower intake of low-fat dairy products, fiber/bran breakfast cereal, and other breakfast cereal.
  • Breakfast Cereal: Higher intake of fiber/bran and other breakfast cereals (especially the latter). Low intake of nuts, refined grains, dark yellow vegetables, and dark green vegetables.

Several of the groups got an unusually large amount of their total calories from just one food group:

  • The sweets and desserts cluster got 25.8% of its total energy from sweets.
  • The refined grains cluster got 24.6% of its total energy from refined grains.
  • The breakfast cereal group got 19.3% of its total energy from cold cereals other than those full of fiber and bran.
  • The high-fat dairy products group got 17.1% of its total energy from higher-fat dairy foods.

Healthy Eaters Live the Longest

Overall, people in the healthy foods cluster had more years of healthy life and a lower death rate than all other groups. Moreover, people in the healthy foods cluster blood tests came back with significantly more indicators of health than the other groups.

But not all of the study findings were so predictable.

"Unexpectedly, in this and in several other studies, a [dietary] pattern higher in red meat was not significantly associated with increased risk of mortality," researcher Amy L. Anderson, PhD, and colleagues note.

It's also not entirely clear why the Meat, Fried Food, and Alcohol cluster didn't have a significantly higher death risk, as most diets warn people to limit or avoid meats, fried food, and alcohol.

"In our study, the Meat, Fried Food, and Alcohol cluster did have a slightly higher percentage of total energy from vegetables, fruit, and whole grains than both the High-Fat Dairy Products and Sweets and Desserts clusters, which showed higher risk of mortality," Anderson and colleagues suggest.

This was by far the most common eating pattern seen in the study: 27% of participants were in the meat, fried food, and alcohol cluster. But the authors do not recommend a diet of meat, fried food, and alcohol.

Instead, the authors point to the fact that 14.5% of study participants were in the healthy foods cluster.

"Adherence to such a diet [healthy foods] appears a feasible and realistic recommendation for potentially improved survival and quality of life in the growing older adult population," Anderson and colleagues conclude.

The study appears in the January 2011 issue of the Journal of the American Dietetic Association.

SOURCE: Anderson, A.L. Journal of the American Dietetic Association, January 2011; vol 111: pp 84-91.

Last modified on Saturday, 29 September 2012 10:34
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