If you fear eating pasta will make your kids obese, hang on. A new study suggests that pasta may not contribute to weight gain or increase in body fat if consumed as part of a healthy dietary pattern. Carbohydrates get a lot of bad press and are blamed for the obesity epidemic but this negative attention may not be deserved for pasta, researchers from St. Michael’s Hospital in Ontario said. Unlike most ‘refined’ carbohydrates, which are rapidly absorbed into the bloodstream, pasta has a low glycemic index (GI), meaning it causes smaller increases in blood sugar levels than those caused by eating foods with a high glycemic index.
“The study found that pasta didn’t contribute to weight gain or increase in body fat. In fact, analysis actually showed a small weight loss. So contrary to concerns, perhaps pasta can be part of a healthy diet such as a GI diet,” said lead author John Sievenpiper. For the study, published in the journal BMJ Open, researchers undertook a systematic review and meta-analysis of all of the available evidence from randomised controlled trials, the gold standard of research design. They identified 30 randomised control trials involving almost 2,500 people who ate pasta instead of other carbohydrates as part of a healthy low-glycemic index diet.
The people involved in the clinical trials on average ate 3.3 servings of pasta a week instead of other carbohydrates. One serving equals about one-half cup of cooked pasta. The participants lost about one-half kilogram over a median follow-up of 12 weeks, the researchers found. The team also stressed that these results are generalisable to pasta consumed along with other low-glycemic index foods as part of a low-glycemic index diet. “In weighing the evidence, we can now say with some confidence that pasta does not have an adverse effect on body weight outcomes when it is consumed as part of a healthy dietary pattern,” Sievenpiper noted.