Eating rice may help fight obesity: Study

Bloomberg | | Updated on: May 01, 2019

This novel research is the first to hypothesise that we could nail obesity by eating a modest amount more

A study presented at the European Congress on Obesity in Glasgow, revealed that people who follow a Japanese- or Asian-style diet, based on rice, were less likely to be obese than those living in countries where consumption of rice was low.

Low carbohydrate diet

They added that low-carbohydrate diets which limit rice are a popular weight-loss strategy in developed countries but the effect of rice on obesity has been unclear.

They looked at rice consumption in terms of grams per day, per person and calorie intake, in 136 countries.

They also looked at data on body mass index (BMI). In the UK, people consume just 19g of rice a day, below countries like Canada, Spain and the US.

The researchers calculated that even a modest increase in rice consumption of 50g per day per person could reduce the worldwide prevalence of obesity by 1 per cent.

Professor Tomoko Imai, from Doshisha Women’s College of Liberal Arts, Kyoto, Japan, who led the research, said: “The observed associations suggest that the obesity rate is low in countries that eat rice as a staple food. Therefore, a Japanese food or an Asian-food-style diet based on rice may help prevent obesity.”

Professor Imai said that rice was low fat, and added, “It is possible that the fibre, nutrients and plant compounds found in whole grains may increase feeling of fullness and prevent over eating.”

The author concluded, “The prevalence of obesity was significantly lower in the countries with higher rice supply even after controlling for lifestyle and socioeconomic indicators.”

Tam Fry, chairman of the National Obesity Forum, said, “We have known for centuries that far eastern populations tend to be slimmer than in the west because rice is a staple food, but few obesity specialists may have appreciated why.”

This novel research is the first to hypothesise that we could nail obesity by eating a modest amount more.

Published on May 01, 2019
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