A team of researchers from Xi’an Jiaotong University conducted a study on the dietary habits and obesity risk of residents in five northwestern provincial-level regions of China. The study aimed to investigate the association between rice and wheat intake and the risk of obesity types.
The participants in the study were aged between 35 to 74 years and were interviewed face-to-face by the researchers. The participants provided information about their medical history and lifestyle, including their alcohol consumption, smoking, dietary status, and physical activity.
Based on the data collected, the researchers divided the participants into three groups according to their weekly rice and wheat intake. The first group ate rice as their staple food, consuming it either daily or four to six times per week, while consuming wheat less than four to six times per week. The second group’s staple food was wheat, and the third group consumed both rice and wheat as their staple food with similar frequency.
The study findings, published in the journal Nutrients, showed that rice preference may be associated with a lower risk of certain obesity types in the population of Northwest China. On the other hand, higher wheat intake was found to be associated with a higher risk of excessive body fat and central obesity (stomach fat) in men and central obesity in women.
The researchers noted that central obesity is a risk factor for various health conditions, such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes. The study’s results suggest that individuals who consume wheat as their staple food may be at higher risk of developing these health conditions than those who prefer rice.
Interestingly, the study findings also showed that rice consumption was associated with a lower risk of obesity types in both men and women. This suggests that rice may have some protective effect against obesity, at least in the population of Northwest China.
However, the researchers caution that their findings should be interpreted with care as the study has several limitations. For example, the study was cross-sectional, meaning that it only shows an association between rice and wheat intake and obesity risk, and not a causal relationship. Additionally, the study only included participants from five provincial-level regions, and the results may not be generalizable to other regions of China or other populations.
The study’s findings suggest that rice may have some protective effect against obesity, while higher wheat intake may increase the risk of central obesity in both men and women. However, more research is needed to understand the mechanisms behind these associations and to determine if the findings are generalizable to other populations.
The study sheds light on the association between dietary habits and obesity risk in a specific population of China. The results suggest that individuals who prefer rice as their staple food may have a lower risk of certain obesity types than those who prefer wheat. However, the study’s findings should be interpreted with care, and more research is needed to confirm these results and to understand the underlying mechanisms.
The staple food of many cultures often forms a significant part of their daily diet. In China, wheat-based foods are consumed in abundance in the northwest region, particularly in Shaanxi province. However, recent research suggests that shifting from wheat to rice may have a positive impact on weight and obesity levels, particularly among individuals with normal weight.
The study found that individuals who switched from consuming wheat-based foods to rice-based foods five times a week had a significantly lower risk of normal-weight obesity in men and normal-weight central obesity in women. Normal-weight obesity refers to people with normal body weight but a high body fat percentage.
The researchers hypothesized that wheat gluten, a protein found in wheat, promoted weight gain by reducing heat production and energy expenditure. In contrast, rice protein showed potential for anti-obesity and triglyceride-lowering effects, based on previous animal studies.
Furthermore, wheat flour absorbs less water than rice when cooked, resulting in a higher energy density of wheat-based foods compared to rice-based foods. The Chinese Food Composition Table confirms that the energy content of noodles or steamed bread is two to three times that of cooked rice of the same weight.
Rice-based dietary patterns tend to include more fresh vegetables, legumes, meat, and fish servings. In contrast, people with a preference for wheat-based foods in Northwest China tend to consume large bowls of noodles with fewer vegetables or less meat, and sometimes even with a large amount of oil. For example, Shaanxi province’s “hot oil noodles” are seasoned with salt, raw garlic, and chili flakes and served with a couple of tablespoons of hot oil.
The researchers concluded that, compared to a preference for wheat-based foods, a preference for rice-based foods or switching from wheat to rice could reduce the risk of overall and abdominal fat accumulation, particularly among individuals with normal weight.
However, the study acknowledged that Northwest China is vast and diverse in terms of its ethnic groups and regional cuisines. Therefore, further research may be necessary to understand the specific reasons behind the observed links between rice consumption and reduced obesity risk.
Overall, the study suggests that shifting from wheat to rice-based foods could have a positive impact on weight and obesity levels, particularly among individuals with normal weight. Moreover, rice-based dietary patterns often include more nutritious foods such as fresh vegetables, legumes, meat, and fish servings. Therefore, individuals who prefer wheat-based foods could benefit from incorporating more nutritious foods into their diet.