A recent study has confirmed a link between being overweight or obese and eating white bread daily. In fact, eating just three slices of white bread per day raise the odds-by half-of someone becoming overweight. However, there was no weight gain found for people who ate whole grain bread.
In this study, researchers in Spain, from the University of Navarra, tracked the weight of almost 10,000 people. The participants of this study were followed for five years. The people studied were tasked with filling out a 136-item questionnaire, and their weight gain was tracked consistently over the course of the study.
Researchers found that people who ate 120g or more of white bread per day were 40 percent more likely to be overweight and pile on the pounds. For perspective, one piece of white bread is about 40g, and many people eat at least two pieces in a one sandwich.
Professor Jason Halford, from the UK Association for the Study of Obesity, explains that white bread has less useful nutrients, like fiber, and it also contains higher levels of sugar. Halford says that white bread can also contain higher levels of salt.
Professor Miguel Martinez-Gonzalez, lead author of the study, explains that white bread is a refined grain, and when the starch breaks down in the mouth, the bread tastes sweet. That sweet taste is sugar, and it leaves people wanting more. The Professor goes on to say that when people eat white bread as a staple food, such as one to two meals a day, that sugar adds up to a lot of additional empty calories.
Gonzalez compares eating white bread to eating a sugar bomb. Since white bread consists of refined flour, it does not have the bran and the germ, which is essential for nutrition. White bread also lacks fiber, which means the sugar is absorbed into the body very quickly, so it’s like eating a sugar bomb.
The weight gain in participants could be caused by the lack of fiber, along with the high sugar content. Also, the weight gain found in participants could not be explained by eating white bread in addition to a bad diet. The European Congress on Obesity found that whole grain bread does not lead to weight gain, and is not linked to obesity, like white bread.
Gonzalez recommends that people switch to whole grains instead. Whole wheat contains more fiber, minerals, and vitamins. Also, the carbohydrate in whole grain bread breaks down slower, making the body absorb it slowly and as a result, people feel fuller longer.
Not only is white bread consumption linked to obesity, but foods that are marketed as low in fat should be avoided as much as possible. Research shows that foods that are labeled as low fat often add extra sugar to make up for the lack of taste. Dr. Matthew Capehorn, clinical director for the Institute of Obesity in England, warns people that just because a product is lower in fat, it does not mean it has fewer calories. Researchers recommend switching to whole grains and avoiding overloading on sugar.