Fast food diet and ‘Metabolic Syndrome’
January 29, 2008
The American Heart Association is calling a typical fast-food meal of burgers, fries, diet soda the “metabolic syndrome blue-plate special.” This was prompted after the release of a new study that finds that adults who eat the equivalent of two burger patties (two or more servings of meat) a day increase risk of developing metabolic syndrome by 25% vs. those who only eat meat twice a week.
Published in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association, the study, “Dietary Intake and the Development of the Metabolic Syndrome,” found those who frequently consumed meat, fried foods and diet sodas were more likely to suffer from metabolic syndrome than those adhering to a prudent diet with whole grains, refined grains, fruits and vegetables, nuts, coffee or sweetened beverages. Dairy-product consumption provided a beneficial effect.
Lyn M. Steffen, Ph.D., M.P.H., R.D., study coauthor and associate professor of epidemiology, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, says, “Fried foods are typically synonymous with commonly eaten fast foods, so I think it is safe to say that these findings support a link between fast-food consumption and an increase in metabolic risk factors.”
Metabolic syndrome is the name for a concurrent group of cardiovascular-disease and diabetes risk factors, including elevated waist circumference, high blood pressure, elevated triglycerides, low levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL or “good”) cholesterol and high fasting glucose levels. A person with three or more of these has an increased risk of developing diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
Researchers assessed food intake of 9,514 subjects in the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communitie (ARIC) study. Using a 66-item food frequency questionnaire, they categorized people by their dietary preferences into a Western-pattern diet (relying on refined grains, processed meat, fried foods, red meat, eggs and soda, and light on fish, fruit, vegetables and whole grain products) or a prudent-pattern diet (one favoring cruciferous and carotenoids-rich vegetables, fruit, fish and seafood, poultry, whole grains, along with low-fat dairy). After nine years, nearly 40% had three or more of the risk factors for metabolic syndrome.
Steffen observed that weight gain might explain some of the cases of metabolic syndrome. But “after adjusting for demographic factors, smoking, physical activity and energy intake, consumption of a ‘Western’ dietary pattern was adversely associated with metabolic syndrome,” she says.