June 1, 2006 -- Want the scoop on the eating habits of people who aren't overweight? Remember the two F's: fruit and fiber.
People who aren't overweight eat more fruit and fiber than overweight people, researchers report in June's Journal of the American Dietetic Association.
"Obviously, no magic formula exists for weight lossweight loss," write Jamie Davis, PhD, RD, and colleagues. "But our results indicated that a diet containing more than average amounts of fiber, complex carbohydrate, and fruit was associated with normal body fat stores and standard weight for height."
In other words, if you want to eat like a lean person, you may want to boost your intake of fiber, fruit, and complex carbohydrates, which include whole grains, starchy vegetables, and beans.
Dishing on Dietary Habits
The study included 52 overweight or obese people and 52 people of normal weight.
Participants didn't go on the latest diet craze or become workout fiends for the study's sake. Instead, they spilled the beans on their eating habits.
To do that, they took a 60-item questionnaire that asked how often participants ate certain foods and how big their servings were. They also got weighed and received a special X-ray -- called dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA) -- to flag their body fat.
Davis worked on the study while at the University of Texas at Austin, and is now based in Los Angeles, at the University of Southern California's preventive medicine department.
"On average, overweight/obese subjects consumed about one more meat serving per day and one less fruit serving per day than their normal-weight counterparts," write Davis and colleagues.
Overweight or obese participants consumed similar amounts of calories as their leaner peers. But overweight and obese people got more of their calories from fat and less from fiber and complex carbohydrates.
Basically, leaner people and heavier people spent their calorie budgets differently. A little more fiber and fruit were the biggest differences, the study shows.
The survey doesn't show that fruit or fiber melts away fat or extra pounds. Fiber is filling, so it might slow people from overindulging in other foods, the researchers note. They add that people may not have reported their eating habits accurately and might have been reluctant to admit eating foods they regarded as unhealthy.
Ready to up your fruit intake? Summer is the season for peaches, plums, and berries. Those fruits are likely to be plentiful at your local grocery store and farmer's market in the coming months.