Researchers in Italy, of all places, have tied pasta consumption to a lower body mass index, suggesting that carbs may not be adding to waistlines.
In a paper that was published in Nutrition & Diabetes, researchers discuss the findings of two separate studies of more than 23,000 people living in the Mediterranean. They found that there needs to be more research into the role pasta plays in making the Mediterranean diet work down waistlines.
"Our findings show a negative association of pasta consumption with general and central obesity in two methodologically and geographically different, large Mediterranean populations," the researchers wrote.
The study authors pointed out that their work backs up relatively recent research, in which analysis of 1,794 middle-aged adults in the United States showed that pasta has a negative impact on the individuals' body mass index (BMI).
While that may sound promising to people who might have felt the Mediterranean diet was too big of an ask, well pasta may not be the most critical component in the lifestyle. The evidence showing that pasta isn't raising BMIs might be proof of the Mediterranean diet's efficacy.
As noted by the University of Reading's Gunter Kuhnle, associate professor of nutrition and health, both of the studies the researchers relied on were conducted with Mediterranean populations. So it's not surprising that many of the respondents adhered to a traditional Mediterranean diet.
Pasta consumption might just be tied to the adherence of the Mediterranean diet and diets like it, he said.
On the other hand, those who left the pasta dishes out of their diets for fear of picking up extra pounds may need to reconsider cutting them out of meal time. As the study notes, pasta consumption in Italy has dipped over the last decade because of the ideas about carbs and meat counteracting efforts to lose weight.
"What is interesting, however, is that these results clearly show that it is wrong to demonize carbohydrates as the data clearly show that consumption of a carbohydrate-rich food such as pasta does not have an adverse effect on body weight," Kuhnle said.
Further supporting the researchers' conclusions is the agreement between the two studies they analyzed. One of the studies used face-to-face interviews, while the other relied on phone-based surveys.
The researchers found that the results from the two studies were nearly identical, which is a good sign for efforts to reproduce their findings.