Metabolic Syndrome and Larger Waists in Youth Point to Health Risks on Horizon. (continued)

The information on this page has been compiled and edited from previously published articles, by Dr. Connie Guttersen.  The articles are not intended as health advice, nor do they necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the California Olive Committee. Always consult your physician on matters of health and wellness.

by Connie Guttersen, RD PhD.

Fighting Metabolic Syndrome with Whole Grains

Scientific literature is emphasizing that what is important for preventing and managing metabolic syndrome is not just the total amount of carbohydrate but the type of carbohydrate we eat. For consumers who have relied on white bread and potatoes to meet their Food Guide Pyramid's recommendation of 6-11 servings of bread, cereal, rice, and pasta per day, this may be a challenging issue. Researchers from Tufts University found that individuals who eat three or more servings of whole grains a day, especially high fiber ones, had better insulin sensitivity and were less likely to have metabolic syndrome.

Whole grain intake has been shown to be inversely related to body mass index (BMI) and waist to hip ratio for adults and adolescents. In an investigation based on participants from the Framingham Offspring Study which computed an average whole grain consumption of 8 servings per week to 20 servings per week of refined grain found astonishing results. As more whole grains were consumed, insulin levels went down. So did cholesterol levels, LDL levels, and the waist-to-hip ratio, which is a known risk factor for cardiovascular disease.

Clearly, it is necessary to look beyond the concept of weight loss as a cosmetic issue for children and take a look at smarter food choices and their combinations to achieve healthier children.

Sample Menu
One way to help fight childhood overweight and obesity is by providing better menu options. Consider creating a menu for minors with natural appeal using the following suggestions as a starting point.


  • 1 large egg, scrambled
  • 1 slice of whole wheat toast with peanut butter
  • 1 cup of low fat milk, skim or 1%
  • 1 serving of fruit, i.e., blueberries or strawberries

Additional ideas include steel cut oatmeal or whole grain waffles instead of the toast


  • Chicken salad which includes black ripe olives, apples and celery or Swiss cheese served in a whole wheat pita, stuffed with baby spinach leaves
  • Raw veggies, such as mini carrots or broccoli
  • Fruit serving
  • Low fat yogurt
  • Water or diluted fruit juice


  • 3 ounces of grilled flank steak
  • 1/2 cup of pinto beans
  • 1 cup or more of grilled veggies or salad made with extra virgin olive oil
  • Whole wheat wraps
  • Fruit


  • Whole grain crackers with peanut or almond butter
  • Almonds, walnuts, peanuts
  • Air popped corn
  • Fruit with yogurt
  • Dark chocolate, occasionally for sweets


  • 3 servings of low fat dairy
  • At least 9 servings of fruit and vegetables, aim for more color and variety
  • 4 servings of whole grains
  • 4-6 ounces of lean protein
  • 3-4 servings of added good fats such as  nuts, avocado, olive oil, omega 3 fatty acids


  • Sinha R, Fisch G, Teague B, et al.: Prevalence of impaired glucose tolerance among children and adolescents with marked obesity. N Engl J Med 2002, 346:802–810.
  • Type 2 diabetes in children and adolescents. American Diabetes Association [no authors listed]. Pediatrics 2000, 105:671–680.
  • Kavey RE, Daniels SR, Lauer RM, et al.: American Heart Association guidelines for primary prevention of atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease beginning in childhood. Circulation 2003, 107:1562–1566.
  • American Diabetes Association: clinical practice recommendations 2002 [no authors listed]. Diabetes Care 2002, 25(suppl 1):S1–S147.
  • Steinberger J, Daniels SR: Obesity, insulin resistance, diabetes, and cardiovascular risk in children: an American Heart Association scientific statement from the Atherosclerosis, Hypertension, and Obesity in the Young Committee (Council on Cardiovascular Disease in the Young) and the Diabetes Committee (Council on Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Metabolism). Circulation 2003, 107:1448–1453.
  • Sinaiko AR, Steinberger J, Moran A, et al. Influence of insulin resistance and body mass index at age 13 on systolic blood pressure, triglycerides, and high-density lipoprotein cholesterol at age 19. Hypertension 2006; DOI:10.1161 /01.HYP.0000237863.24000.50.
  • Morrison JA, Aronson-Friedman L, Harlan WR, et al. Development of the metabolic syndrome in black and white adolescent girls: A longitudinal assessment. Pediatrics 2005; 116:1178-1182
  • Duncan GE. Prevalence of diabetes and impaired fasting glucose levels among US adolescents. Arch Pediatr Adoles Med 2006; 160: 523-528.
  • Weiss, R. et al. Obesity and the metabolic syndrome in children and adolescents. NEJM 2004 Jun 3; 350(23):2362-74
  • Hirschler, V. et al. Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, August 2005; vol 159:740-744.
  • McCarthy, H. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2001;vol 55:902-907. Circulation, April 2006; 113:1675-1682
  • Nicola McKeown et al. Carbohydrate nutrition, insulin resistance, and the prevalence of the metabolic syndrome in the Framingham Offspring Cohort. Diabetes Care, February 2004; vol 27:538-546
  • Steffen LM, Jacobs DR Jr, Murtaugh MA et al. Whole grain intake is associated with lower body mass and greater insulin sensitivity among adolescents. Am J Epidemiol. 2003; 58(3):243-50.
  • McKeown NM, Meigs JB, Liu S, Wilson PW, Jacques PF. Whole-grain intake is favorably associated with metabolic risk factors for type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease in the Framingham Offspring Study. Am J Clin Nutr. 2002; 76(2):390-8.
  • Newby PK, Muller D, Hallfrisch J, Andres R, Tucker KL. Food patterns measured by factor analysis and anthropometric changes in adults. Am J Clin Nutr. 2004; 80(2):504-13
  • Sahyoun NR, Jacques PF, Zhang XL, Juan W, McKeown NM. Whole-grain intake is inversely associated with the metabolic syndrome and mortality in older adults. J Nutr 2006;83(1):124-31.