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Eating Healthy, Living Longer

If we indeed are what we eat, many of us may end up very displeased with who we become. Despite increased evidence of the dramatic benefits of a low-fat diet high in fruits, vegetables and whole grains, fast-food intake is at an all-time high and the American public is growing (literally) at an unprecedented rate.

If you’re not convinced by the previous research, maybe this latest study will convince you.

Data from phase 2 (1987-89) of the Breast Cancer Detection Demonstration Project included the results of a 62-item food frequency questionnaire completed by 42,254 women. The study authors examined all-cause mortality (death by any cause) based on “Recommended Food Score” (RFS) -- the sum of the number of foods recommended by current dietary guidelines that subjects reported consuming at least once a week.

Increasing RFS correlated with lower relative risk of all-cause mortality. Put in simpler terms, better overall diet corresponded with better overall health and lower risk of death. These results were maintained after adjusting for numerous other variables, including education; ethnicity; age; body mass index; smoking status; alcohol use; physical activity; menopausal hormone use; and history of disease.

As the authors note, these results emphasize the value of current dietary guidelines recommending adequate intake of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy, and lean meat.


Kant AK, Schatzkin A, Graubard BI, et al. A prospective study of diet quality and mortality in women. Journal of the American Medical Association, April 26, 2000: Vol. 283, No. 16, pp2109-2115.

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