Veggies won't make you thinner: study

UOW's Karen Charlton found obese women were more likely than most to eat lots of vegetables. Picture: CHRISTOPHER CHAN

UOW's Karen Charlton found obese women were more likely than most to eat lots of vegetables. Picture: CHRISTOPHER CHAN

An apple a day might keep the doctor away, but according to new findings from the University of Wollongong, simply loading up on vegetables will not keep the weight off.

In an analysis of data from the Sax Institute's 45 and Up Study, Associate Professor Karen Charlton from the School of Medicine at UOW found overweight or obese women were actually more likely to consume large quantities of vegetables.

"We were assuming the opposite, because other studies said eating vegetables help you lose weight," she said.

"We found women with the highest intake of vegetables were more likely to be obese."

Analysing data from 250,000 people involved in the 45 and Up Study found obese or overweight women were also more likely to meet the recommended intake of two fruit and five vegetable servings per day.

However, Assoc Prof Charlton was quick to point out the study did not mean vegetables caused weight gain - rather, it pointed to lifestyle choices.

For one, the results were not reflected in studies of men. Overweight or obese men were less likely to eat large quantities of fruit and vegetables, which she said shows how men and women make different choices when it comes to diet.

"We were thinking perhaps overweight women simply ate more of all foods, including vegetables, and maybe men who change their eating habits around fruit and vegetables changed other habits about their lifestyle and weight too."

In other words, she said, men who ate healthily were more likely to engage in exercise and other activities, which helps put them in a healthier weight range.

"We think public health campaigns need to be gender specific.

"We are not saying vegetables increase weight gain, but we need to look at total diets, and how fruit and vegetables fit into that."

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