Published On: Sun, May 5th, 2019

Eating more rice could be protective against obesity, Study

Eating more rice should be recommended to protect against obesity even in western countries, according to an international study of 136 countries.

Therefore, “Asian-food-style as Japanese food, based on rice, may help prevent obesity,” says Professor Tomoko Imai from Doshisha Women’s College of Liberal Arts, Kyoto, Japan who led the research.

The research presented at the European Congress on Obesity (ECO) in Glasgow, UK, shows that countries that consume high amounts of rice, an average of 150g per person per day, obesity levels are substantially lower. While obesity levels are higher in counties with lower rice intake, an average of 14g per day per person.

Even a modest increase in the average of 50g rice, equivalent to a quarter of a cup, per day per person could reduce the worldwide prevalence of obesity by 1%, says the research.

The study concludes its results: “people who eat higher levels of dietary fiber, such as rice, and whole grains, have lower body weight and cholesterol, and lower rates of diseases compared with people with lower rice and fiber intakes”.

The link between rice intake and obesity is unclear.

Imai and his team analyzed all rice products including white rice, brown rice, rice flour relative consumption, (g/day/person) and energy consumption (kcal/day/person) in the diets of 136 countries with populations of more than 1 million.

The countries were categorized into low and high consumption of rice groups.

Their analysis showed that total energy consumed, smoking rates, obesity levels, percentage of the population over 65 years old, GDP, education, and health expenditure were significantly lower in countries that consumed high levels of rice.
Bangladesh– ranked 1st, with 473g rice per day per person, Lao 2nd with 443g rice/day, Cambodia 3rd with 438g rice/day, Vietnam 4th with 398g rice/day, and Indonesia 5th with 361g rice/day.

Western countries with lower consumption of rice are France ranked 99th with 15g rice/day/person, the UK 89th19g rice/day, the USA 87th with 19g, Spain 81st with 22g, Canada 77th with 24g, and Australia 67th with 32g.

“Eating rice seems to protect against weight gain. It’s possible that the fibre, nutrients, and plant compounds found in whole grains may increase feelings of fullness and prevent overeating. Rice is also low in fat and has a relatively low postprandial blood glucose level which suppresses insulin secretion. However, there are also reports that people who overeat rice are more likely to develop metabolic syndrome and diabetes. Therefore, an appropriate amount of rice intake may prevent obesity”, says Professor Imai.

The authors note the need for future studies to demonstrate whether increasing individual consumption of rice leads to improvements in obesity rates in longitudinal studies.

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