DASH Diet Keeps Teen Girls Slim for Life

Robyn Nazar RN BSN's picture
DASH Diet users
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Teen girls ages 9 to 19 who follow the DASH diet are more likely to stay slim into adulthood, says new study.

The DASH diet, which stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, is a diet promoted by the American Heart Association to help control elevated blood pressure in adults. However researchers from Boston University School of Medicine found that teen girls who followed the diet has less body mass index (BMI) gains over 10 years in addition to staying the thinnest.

"I think these were the results we were hoping to find," said study author Dr. Jonathan Berz, an assistant professor of medicine at Boston University School of Medicine.

The DASH diet, created as a result of a 6-year nutrition study, emphasizes lean protein sources such as fish, poultry, and low-fat dairy products along with high intake of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes. A key feature of the diet is reduced sodium levels and elevated intake of potassium and other key nutrients.

The Boston researchers used data from the National Growth and Health Study which included 2,237 girls from ages 9 to 19. Each of the girls in the study were trained by a nutritionist to accurately keep a food journal using household measurements for one year. Researchers then followed up with the girls after a decade.

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According to the results of the study, the teen girls who reported DASH-like diets ate more fruits, veggies, and vegetables than the other teens and gained the least weight.

"I don't necessarily feel the results are earth-shattering or incredibly impressive, but I think people have to give up on the (idea) that we can educate ourselves out of the obesity epidemic," said Dr. Mitchell Roslin, chief of bariatric surgery at Lenox Hill Hospital. Many nutritional experts feel that simply providing nutritional information is not enough and perhaps giving a set plan to teen girls and boys may be more effective.

The DASH diet also recently received recognition from the U.S. News & World Report as the “Best Overall Diet” out of 20 diets evaluated based on: short-term weight loss, long-term eight loss, ease-of-use, nutritional value, ability to prevent or manage diabetes and heart disease.

Although the weight-loss benefits of the DASH diet are encouraging, the real benefit is that this diet can sustain life-long healthy benefits such as normal BMI, decreased blood pressure, and reduced risk for diabetes and heart disease.

Currently more than 17% of all children in the U.S. are overweight.

This study was published in the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine

This page is updated on May 11, 2013.

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