Lead author Dr. Deborah Boggs of the Slone Epidemiology Center at Boston University and colleagues used data from the Black Women's Health Study, a follow-up study of 59,000 African-American women nationwide conducted since 1995.
The researchers asked participants about their diet at the beginning of the study in 1995, and again six years later in 2001. Two major dietary patterns were identified -- a vegetables/fruit pattern, high in vegetables, fruit, legumes, fish and whole grains; and a meat/fried foods pattern, high in red meat, processed meat, french fries and fried chicken.
The study, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, found women who consumed a diet high in vegetables and fruit gained less weight during a 14-year period than women whose diets were low in these foods.
"People tend to eat a consistent amount of food rather than a consistent number of calories," Boggs says in a statement. "A diet high in red meat and fried foods can lead to consuming too many calories because these foods contain more calories than the same amount of vegetables and fruit."
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