Stroke higher in the South of America due to the poor dietary habits there

Stroke higher in the South of America due to the poor dietary habits there

People eating the Southern US diet of fried fatty everything, processed meats, sugar drinks and salty foods, have a 41%-63% higher rate of stroke, what a surprise.

“Diet is an overlooked risk factor for stroke.  While physicians, of course, know that diet is a risk factor, stroke patients or patients with risk factors for stroke are rarely referred for dietary counseling”
Suzanne Judd, PhD, MPH.

“Yet this is something that patients can easily do to reduce risk.  Patients are always asking what they can do to avoid stroke.  Here is something you can tell them…”
Steven M. Greenberg, MD, PhD, chair of the ISC program and chair of neurology at the Massachusetts General Hospital Stroke Research Center.

What has the in-depth REGARDS study uncovered?

  • People eating the highest amount of Southern dietary patterns had a 41%-63% increased risk of stroke compared with those eating the lowest
  • There was a 30% increased risk of stroke even when the analysis was adjusted for other risk factors such as smoking and physical activity
  • The researchers blamed three major factors: fatty foods rich in cholesterol, sugary drinks linked to diabetes, and salty foods increasing high blood pressure
  • The highest consumers of the Southern diet lived in the seven states that comprise the ‘Stroke Belt’ - Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee - Louisiana, Delaware, Michigan, and Illinois

There were 5 different dietary patterns analysed using factor analysis and food frequency questionnaires:

  1. The Southern diet, with its emphasis on fried foods, organ and processed meats and sweetened iced tea – had the highest risk for disease
  2. The plant-based diet, packed with fruits, vegetables and legumes – had the lowest risk for disease
  3. The convenience diet of Chinese and Mexican foods, pasta and pizza - high risk
  4. The sweet/fat diet, rich in desserts, added sugars and sweetened snacks - high risk
  5. The alcohol/salad diet, which contains fats and vegetables - high risk yet lower than The Southern Diet

Study by Judd S, et al “Southern diet pattern increases risk of stroke while plant-based pattern decreases risk of stroke in the REGARDS Study; ISC 2013; Abstract 144” as presented at the International Stroke Conference, 2013.  The researchers prospectively examined diet pattern data from 20,480 Americans, 45 and older who were enrolled the REasons for Geographic and Racial Differences in Stroke (REGARDS) study 2003-2007.  These University of Alabama at Birmingham researchers found that people in the highest quartile of adherence to Southern dietary patterns were at a 41%-63% increased risk of stroke compared with those in the lowest quartile.  As reported by MedPage Today on February 08, 2013. The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, Amgen, and General Mills funded the study.

Posted: Thursday 28 February 2013

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