This news release is featured in a news conference at 7 a.m. HT, Thursday Feb. 7.
Vodcast (video story posted at embargo)
HONOLULU, Hawaii, Feb. 7, 2013 — Eating Southern-style foods may be linked to a higher risk of stroke, according to research presented at the American Stroke Association’s International Stroke Conference 2013.
In the first large-scale study on the relationship between Southern foods and stroke, researchers characterized a Southern diet by a high intake of foods such as fried chicken, fried fish, fried potatoes, bacon, ham, liver and gizzards, and sugary drinks such as sweet tea. In addition to being high in fat, fried foods tend to be heavily salted.
“We’ve got three major factors working together in the Southern-style diet to raise risks of cardiovascular disease: fatty foods are high in cholesterol, sugary drinks are linked to diabetes and salty foods lead to high blood pressure,” said Suzanne Judd, Ph.D., M.P.H., lead researcher and a nutritional epidemiologist at the University of Alabama Birmingham’s biostatistics department.
Previous research has shown that Southerners are about 20 percent more likely to have a stroke than the rest of Americans.
Comparing the dietary habits of more than 20,000 black and white adults, researchers found:
The study raises red flags for African-Americans who are five times more likely to eat Southern foods than whites, Judd said. And first-time stroke risk among blacks is almost double that of whites, according to American Stroke Association statistics.
Participants from 48 states answered telephone questionnaires about what foods they eat as part of the ongoing Reasons for Geographic and Racial Differences in Stroke (REGARDS) Study (begun in 2003). Participants were evenly divided between men and women, and the minimum age was 45.
Each person underwent an in-person medical assessment including height, weight and blood pressure measurements; an electrocardiogram; and a blood test. Every six months after, participants answered follow-up telephone questions about their stroke incidence, sleep habits and overall health.
Researchers designed a mathematical model to group foods commonly eaten together into 56 different categories. Each person’s eating habits were scored based on the categories. The scores were further analyzed in relation to how often they had a stroke.
About two-thirds of the participants who ate the most Southern-style foods lived in the southeastern United States. But, no matter where they live, people eating a lot of Southern foods should be more aware of their risks of stroke, Judd said.
Healthcare providers should educate patients about nutrition earlier, and ask patients about what they’re eating, how much and how often, she said.
Co-authors are: Orlando Gutierrez, M.D.; Brett Kissela, M.D.; George Howard, Dr.P.H.; Julie Locher, Ph.D.; Virginia Howard, Ph.D.; P. Newby, Ph.D.; and James Shikany, Dr.P.H. Author disclosures are on the abstract.
The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, Amgen and General Mills funded the study.
Follow news from the American Stroke Association’s International Stroke Conference 2013 via Twitter @HeartNews; #ISC13.
Statements and conclusions of study authors that are presented at American Stroke Association scientific meetings are solely those of the study authors and do not necessarily reflect association policy or position. The association makes no representation or warranty as to their accuracy or reliability. The association receives funding primarily from individuals; foundations and corporations (including pharmaceutical, device manufacturers and other companies) also make donations and fund specific association programs and events. The association has strict policies to prevent these relationships from influencing the science content. Revenues from pharmaceutical and device corporations are available at www.heart.org/corporatefunding.
Note: Actual presentation is 1:06 p.m. HT Thursday, Feb. 7, 2013.
All available downloadable video/audio interviews, B-roll, animation and images related to this news release are located on the right column of the release link. Video clips with researchers/authors of studies will be added to the release links after embargo.