Dietary Pattern Contributes to Increased Stroke Risk
The diet of Americans depends on certain factors, such as age, race and location and may be categorized into 5 dietary patterns, according to the researchers of this study..
A group of black and white Americans who were 45 years old and older living in the southern states of the United States were asked to participate in this study.
The respondents numbered 22,000 people and 50 percent of them lived in Southeast with varying education and income levels.
The participants answered the food questionnaire that asked about their diet for the past year. After gathering all the data, the researchers grouped similar food consumption and defined the dietary patterns that emerged. Then, the participants were given a score based on their dietary pattern.
5 Dietary Patterns
Based upon the collated data, black people appear to prefer “southern” style diets compared to the white people. Southern diets feature sweetened beverages, processed meats and fried foods.
According to the study co-author Suzanne Judd, University of Alabama’s assistant professor, the southern diet has been identified as a major dietary pattern likely because many of the questionnaire respondents were living in the Southeast.
The four other dietary patterns identified include the following:
The “traditional” dietary pattern is made up of takeout and ready-to-eat foods.
The “healthy” diet is composed of grains, fruits and vegetables.
The “sweet” diet includes many of the sweet treats and snacks.
The “alcohol” dietary pattern includes salads and proteins and is popular among the younger age groups and higher socioeconomic groups.
High Stroke Risk Related to the Southern Diet
The study was limited to black and white respondents because these 2 racial groups present the biggest difference in risk to stroke. Statistics say that among the 45-years old population, the stroke risk is three times more among black people than white people. The risk difference is less, however, as people gorw older.
The Southern region has been called the “stroke belt” because people here often suffer a stroke.
One of the trends that emerged from the study is the traditional diet among the group of people aged 45 to 54 years old. The traditional diet, as described above, includes ready-to-eat food products.
Black people belong to the southern diet group, while the white people have the traditional or sweet diet. The income level and educational background of the participants did not significantly affect their diet patterns. The individual’s culture and upbringing may have more bearing on the person’s eating habits.
The Southern Diet’s relation to high blood pressure
High blood pressure is the number one factor that increases the risk of stroke among black people. Because the southern diet is particularly high in sodium and fats, it contributes to the incidence of high blood pressure that can lead to stroke. This diet may also have a significant effect on obesity.
When a person does not maintain his optimal weight, he can have many problems including those related to blood vessels function.
Many studies have sought to understand how individual nutrients like fats, calcium, sodium and fiber can affect the health of black and white men, but the impact of overall diet on their health still remains unclear.
Washington University’s director of university nutrition, Connie Diekman, said that we need to understand dietary patterns because it is not the individual nutrients we eat but the totality of what we eat that cause our diseases.
Also, if we want to help people improve their eating habits, it’s not enough to just label food items as good or bad. Identifying the different dietary patterns may be more beneficial.
Then, finding the association between the dietary patterns and good or bad health, including diseases like stroke, is the next step.
If there’s any association uncovered, certain foods can be targeted, just like what the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is doing when they work on decreasing the sodium in food supplies.
What has been learned from the study presented in this article shows the importance of nutrition education plus changes in diet such as sodium intake and serving sizes. Nevertheless, the information remains preliminary unless it appears in a peer-reviewed publication.
Photo credits: Naotake Murayama via Flickr, CC by 2.0