Jaimie Davis

Photo Credit: Xintong Guo | Daily Texan Staff

A recent UT study found an increase in vegetable consumption in children is enough to prevent diseases and improve health.

The study, contributed to by Jaimie Davis, nutritional sciences assistant professor, was published in the November edition of the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. It was originally focused on trying to determine whether every vegetable had the same effect on the body, according to Davis. She said the research team discovered that some vegetables have a greater positive effect than others. Five other researchers from the University of Southern California assisted with the study.

“Even a small amount of green and orange vegetables have a great effect in children’s health,” Davis said. “They can also help in the prevention of diseases.”    

Davis said many diseases, such as Type 2 diabetes, may be prevented with the consumption of small amounts of leafy vegetables, including spinach, broccoli and lettuce. She also said consumption could reduce liver fat and visceral fat, which is fat in and around the organs that can be toxic to the body.

“We found that not even more than a full serving in an ordinary meal would make a big difference in the children’s health,” Davis said.    

According to Davis, researchers made it a goal to not only send information to policy makers, but also to parents, so they could plan healthier meals for their children.    

“This research could pursue policy makers to push leafy green vegetables in a school’s lunch,” Davis said.

A statement from the University said the research found eating the right kind of vegetables would not necessarily help children lose weight, but will help children who are most at risk for diseases.

“This research shows that policy makers can make a difference if they roll up their sleeves and help serve even one healthy vegetable each day to a toddler in child care, a student in the school cafeteria or a family in an isolated neighborhood,” said Lauren Dimitry, health and business fitness policy associate with Texans Care for Children, a nonprofit organization that works on children’s issues.

Dimitry said she thinks the research could help change the way people view nutrition. 

“Most of all, I think this research illustrates that increasing nutrition is important and achievable,” Dimitry said.

Photo Credit: Ellyn Snider | Daily Texan Staff

While students snacked on pizza, Jaimie Davis, nutritional sciences assistant professor, discussed the difference between counting carbs and measuring fat intake at the Perry-Castañeda Library on Wednesday.

As part of UT Libraries’ “Research and Pizza” series, Davis said weight loss is often in the forefront of the minds of college students, as many are subject to weight gain within their first year.

“It’s actually not the freshman 15. Research actually shows it’s more like 3 to 8 pounds that freshmen gain when they go to college,” Davis said. “A lot of that has to do with a decrease in activity, and, also, you’re eating differently. You have access to cafeterias and, of course, alcohol consumption does play a role in that.”

Davis spoke about the differences between diets that focus on reduction of carbohydrates versus fat intake.

“In the last 10 years, we’ve seen a big debate on whether it’s low carb or low fat and which diet is better for weight loss,” Davis said. “I don’t know that I’m going to 100 percent answer that question.”

Davis said the pizza served at the event contained between 30 and 40 grams of carbohydrates per slice, making it a food that should be enjoyed rarely.

She showed slides from a recent study from the School of Health at Tulane University. She said the study involved innovative tactics to study weight loss between diets reducing fat and carb intake.

“They did 24-hour diet recalls, which is the state-of-the-art way to measure diet. Measuring diet is actually fairly challenging in our field, but diet recalls are the best way to do it,” Davis said. “You call and ask everything they ate the previous day.”

University librarian Roxanne Bogucka said Davis’ research for weight loss applies to more than just college students.

“Her research focuses on designing and disseminating nutrition, physical activity and [behavior] to reduce obesity and related metabolic disorders in overweight minority children and adolescents,” Bogucka said.

Davis said her conclusion on the difference between diets is miniscule but warns that starving yourself will not lead to a lasting diet.

“Both diets respond with very similar weight loss, and any diet that you do where you cut calories down, you’ll see very similar reductions in weight loss,” Davis said. “Obviously, if you’re on a diet, and you’re always hungry, I guarantee you’re not going to stay on that diet for long.”

Pharmacy senior Andrea Laguado said Davis’ argument about a lasting diet makes sense to her.

“I agree with what she said, that you just have to make [eating healthy] a lifetime thing, versus using a diet,” Laguado said. “I don’t use diets ever, and I was a nutrition major.”