Study pinpoints sex differences in dietary risk factors for CVD

Michelle Wisbey

19/01/2024 3:34:41 PM

New research has revealed which foods are linked to a heightened risk of heart disease, and their surprising contrasts for men and women.

Selection of healthy foods on table.
Around 94% of Australian adults do not meet their daily fruit and vegetable intake.

Too much red meat for women and not enough wholegrains for men.
Those are the diets most responsible for spiking Australians’ risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD), according to a new study, published in the PLOS ONE journal.
Using data from the Global Burden of Diseases study, the research compared rates of death, disability-adjusted life years, years lived with a disability, and years of life lost for 21 CVDs attributable to 13 dietary risk factors.
These included consumption of fibre, fruits, legumes, nuts and seeds, processed meat, red meat, sodium, and sugar-sweetened beverages.
Overall, it was discovered the burden of diet-related CVD has significantly decreased in Australia over the last three decades.
However, the leading dietary risk factors for death or disability was a diet high in red meat in women, and a diet low in wholegrains for men.
Alternatively, a diet high in sodium for women and high in processed meat for men saw the lowest decrease in CVD burden.
Queensland GP and dietitian Dr Terri-Lynne South told newsGP she was surprised to see the study’s findings of significant difference in men and women’s dietary risks.
‘I think that’s something relatively new to be published and interesting to pick apart even more,’ she said.
‘There’s more research suggesting that men and women react differently to different interventions from a metabolic health or weight control point of view.
‘But to reverse that to say that there are known dietary risks that seem to be variable in the amount of risk for men versus women, I think that’s a new suggestion.’
CVD causes one quarter of all deaths in Australia and costs the economy more than $5 billion every year.
Despite Commonwealth initiatives to educate the population, such as the Australian Dietary Guidelines and Health Star Rating, eating patterns have proved slow to shift.
Currently, the weekly consumption of red meat by Australians is estimated to be an average of 565 grams, around 24% higher than guidelines suggest.
At the same time, 94% of Australian adults and 91% of children do not meet their suggested daily fruit and vegetable intake.
Around 12% of adults do not eat any fruits and 2% eat no vegetables.
In tackling these statistics, Dr South’s advice to fellow GPs is to always listen to patients, their backgrounds and potential trauma before discussing changes to diet or weight.
‘We’re in the technology age and I think that patients are overwhelmed with conflicting information – every week there’s a new piece of dietary or health advice, often conflicting,’ she said.
‘When I look into some of these claims and proponents, it’s not necessarily that they’re 100% false, there’s often a little kernel of truth in there but it has been distilled down into a single sentence so it’s no longer applicable to the individual in front of me.’
The researchers say their findings are further evidence that dietary risk factors are among the leading lifestyle determinants for CVD, alongside tobacco use, insufficient physical activity, and excessive alcohol consumption.
‘Future nutrition programs and policies should target these dietary risk factors,’ they concluded.
‘Our study highlights the need for dietary policies to focus on a whole of diet approach emphasising wholegrains and legumes and reducing red meat and with additional efforts to target those at higher risk including men and older adults.’
Dr South said the more research carried out on Australian diets, the more medicine and medical advice can be personalised to individual patients.
‘Practitioners need to be skilled in working out what the priorities are for the person in front of them,’ she said.
‘Then it’s about understanding that no matter what diet someone is offered, if a person can’t follow it for the rest of their life, it’s just not practical.’

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Dr Graham James Lovell   20/01/2024 6:37:43 PM

I find this article still very much “ one size fits all”.
Australia’s key future drivers for the upcoming Tsunami of premature CVD are statistically Obesity driven Insulin resistance and Type 2 Diabetes.
High Carbohydrate diets regardless of non processed origins, especially high GI fruits
will only continue the weight gain and downward spiral of the now 1/3 of obese Australian Adults. Carbohydrates all promote Insulin release, which inhibits Lipase thereby trapping these individuals from ever escaping.
For those unfamiliar with these issues check out the Website “Low carb down under”. A Doctor initiated website, and discover a dietary plan that is now accepted in Australian Diabetic Guidelines

Dr John Farrar Ainge   21/01/2024 9:04:12 AM

Does this study look at premenopausal women, postmenopausal, women or just all women in general?

Dr Peter James Strickland   22/01/2024 11:55:08 AM

I now laugh at these sort of studies. The biggest problem in young people is obesity, and especially in young women. Let people eat what they like and are comfortable with, i.e. within limits, do NOT condone the intake nor legalisation of illicit drugs, encourage vigorous exercise and sport and intake of water in everyone, and let the people's genetics determine their longevity. We all know that excessive sugars, salt, red meats etc in our diets can possibly be damaging, but some people really do better with a higher meat intake, some need more carbohydrates for energy etc. I want to see people happy and content in 2024, and not feeling guilty or obsessed by their diets. Govt policy on finances often determine many people's diets, as we are seeing now with 'woke' govts and supermarkets trying to manage society, and destroying individuality of thought, finances, AND our diets here in Oz, and manufacturing and condoning false racism!

Dr Graham James Lovell   28/01/2024 11:13:37 AM

I’m fascinated these days about the obsession with anything that we used to call advice is now seen as blaming and shaming.
I’m a devout believer and practitioner of Mindfulness and enjoying living in the moment,but I also love respecting and looking after myself and my patients. Unhealthy food and lifestyle choices today won’t inevitably leave you “Happy” in the future. RACFs highlight this: my Diabetic patient who may have 10 years to live won’t be advised that eating desserts or Cranberry juice is a bad idea. So tomorrow she starts the avoidable insulin injections- what a joke !
For our younger patients if you can’t do “ hard love” on evidence based data why are we even pretending to be a doctor???