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Italian Study Says that Pasta Won't Make You Fat

It’s Italians themselves who are saying pasta's not so bad for your health. It’s sort of like getting medical advice from the sun-bleached stoma that is a Marlboro Man
Foto von Patent and the Pantry via Flickr

We have some good news and some bad news for you.

The good news is this: Pasta doesn't make you fat, according to a new study.

But the bad news is this: The study comes from researchers at the IRCCS Istituto Neurologico Mediterraneo Neuromed in Pozzilli.

In other words, it's Italians themselves who are saying pasta's not so bad for your health. It's sort of like getting medical advice from the sun-bleached stoma that is a Marlboro Man or tips on coexisting with sharks from Roy Scheider. You might just want to take the information with a grain of Sicilian salt.


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If you are not cynical by nature—but instead have a deep-seated belief in the goodness of mankind—then you will probably want to know that the researchers studied over 23,000 people in Italy and found this: Higher pasta intake is not related to increased body mass index.

The study was published on Monday in the journal called Nutrition and Diabetes. And, yes, that's a peer-reviewed journal that says it brings "to the fore outstanding research in the areas of nutrition and chronic disease, including diabetes, from the molecular to the population level."

Can it all be true? The researchers say it is indeed: "As a traditional component of the Mediterranean diet, pasta consumption was negatively associated with body mass index (BMI), waist circumference and waist-to-hip ratio and with a lower prevalence of overweight and obesity."

The study compared results from two groups: subjects from the Molise region of Italy and people from the rest of Italy, whose results were analyzed by the Italian Nutrition & Health Survey project. The scientists say, "Our findings show a negative association of pasta consumption with general and central obesity in two methodologically and geographically different, large Mediterranean populations."

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The researchers further point out that pasta consumption is part of the typical Mediterranean diet, which has been associated with all kinds of health benefits. They say their results confirm this finding: "Adherence to the Mediterranean diet according to epidemiological and clinical evidence has a protective role on overweight and obesity, in parallel with important health benefits against chronic diseases and related comorbidities."

But don't accuse them of being biased in their support of Italy's best-known foodstuff. The researchers point out that other non-Italian studies have reached similar conclusions as their own: "Our results are in agreement with a relatively recent study examining food and nutrient intakes in association with BMI in 1,794 US middle-aged adults, showing that pasta intake among other food groups is negatively associated with BMI. Moreover, evidence from Greek islands supports a favorable role of carbohydrate intake on central and general obesity."

Although we are normally suspicious and doubting types, we have to say that when it comes to pasta, we are pretty easily convinced, shadowy cabal of Italian pasta-makers be damned.