Vegetable Consumption Is Linked to Decreased Visceral and Liver Fat and Improved Insulin Resistance in Overweight Latino Youth

Published:March 28, 2014DOI:


      There are limited data on the influence of vegetable consumption on adiposity and metabolic health, specifically nonstarchy vegetables and vegetables that are dark green and deep orange/yellow (also known as nutrient-rich vegetables). Our study examines the relationship between vegetable intake and adiposity, liver fat, and insulin dynamics in overweight Latino youth. This cross-sectional study of 175 overweight (body mass index ≥85th percentile) Latino youth (aged 8 to 18 years), with data collected during 2006-2011, included the following: dietary intake via multiple 24-hour recalls, total body fat via dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry, adipose tissue distribution and liver fat via magnetic resonance imaging, and insulin dynamics via frequently sampled intravenous glucose tolerance test. Linear regression and analysis of covariance were used for analysis, with the following a priori covariates: age, sex, energy intake, and total body fat. Participants who consumed the most nonstarchy vegetables (mean intake=1.7±1.0 servings/day) compared with the least (mean intake=0.1±0.1 servings/day) had 44% less liver fat (10.0%±8.5% vs 5.6%±8.7%; P=0.01). Nutrient-rich vegetable intake was positively correlated with insulin sensitivity (r=0.19; P=0.03). Consumers of nutrient-rich vegetables (mean intake=0.3±0.4 servings/day [n=107]), compared with nonconsumers (n=68), had 31% increased insulin sensitivity (1.6±1.6 vs 2.1±1.3×10–4/min/μU/mL; P=0.03) and 17% less visceral adipose tissue (2.3±0.9 vs 1.9±0.7 L; P=0.01). Consumption of specific vegetable types by overweight Latino youth is associated with positive metabolic outcomes, including reduced visceral and liver fat and risk factors for type 2 diabetes, even when consumed in small quantities. These may be relevant targets for interventions.


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      L. T. Cook is a doctoral trainee, Department of Preventive Medicine, Keck School of Medicine, University of Southern California, Los Angeles.


      G. A. O'Reilly is a doctoral trainee, Department of Preventive Medicine, Keck School of Medicine, University of Southern California, Los Angeles.


      M. I. Goran is a professor of preventive medicine and a professor of physiology and biophysics, Department of Preventive Medicine, Keck School of Medicine, University of Southern California, Los Angeles.


      D. Spruijt-Metz is an associate professor of preventive medicine, Department of Preventive Medicine, Keck School of Medicine, University of Southern California, Los Angeles.


      M. J. Weigensberg is an associate professor of clinical pediatrics, Departments of Pediatrics and Preventive Medicine, Keck School of Medicine, University of Southern California, Los Angeles.


      J. N. Davis is an assistant professor of nutritional sciences, Department of Nutritional Sciences, University of Texas, Austin.