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Nutr Diabetes. 2012 Oct 1;2:e48. doi: 10.1038/nutd.2012.22.

Increased vegetable and fruit consumption during weight loss effort correlates with increased weight and fat loss.

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US Department of Agriculture Agricultural Research Service, Grand Forks Human Nutrition Research Center, Grand Forks, ND, USA.



Individuals who focused on calorie counting lost more weight than those who focused on increasing vegetable and fruit (V&F) intake in a weight loss program. We now present serum carotenoid data (biomarkers of V&F intake) from both groups and test whether these biomarkers correlate with changes in weight and body fat.


Sixty obese volunteers were randomized to one of the following weight loss programs: 500 kcal per day reduction (Reduction) or a focus on consuming eight vegetables per day and 2-3 fruits per day (HiVeg). Volunteers in the Reduction group were 36.8±10.3 years with a body mass index of 33.5; 83% were white, 17% chose not to report race; 70% were not Hispanic or Latino, 13% were Hispanic or Latino and 17% chose not to report ethnicity. Volunteers in the HiVeg group were 30.4±6.6 years with a body mass index of 33.2: 74% white, 11% Asian, 5% black or African American, 5% multiracial and 5% chose not to report race; 89% were not Hispanic or Latino, 5% were Hispanic or Latino and 5% chose not to report ethnicity. Subjects were taught basic nutrition principles, received breakfast and lunch 5 days per week for 3 months, meals 2 days per week during month 4, then regular phone calls to month 12.


Total serum carotenoid concentrations increased from baseline to 3 months and remained elevated at 12 months, but there was no difference between groups. Changes in weight, fat and % fat correlated negatively with serum carotenoid concentrations.


Increased serum carotenoids (a biomarker for V&F intake) correlated with improved weight and fat loss indicating that increased V&F consumption is an appropriate strategy for weight loss. However, in light of the fact that the Reduction group lost more weight, the consumption of increased V&F for the purpose of weight loss should happen within the context of reducing total caloric intake.

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