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Chili Pepper Might Be Making You Gain Weight, Study Finds

Daniel Kim Views  

A recent study has found that frequent consumption of chili peppers may increase the risk of obesity.

A study published in Frontiers in Nutrition found that eating peppers frequently increases the risk of obesity.

Capsaicin, a compound found in chili peppers, has been believed to promote cardiometabolic health and help manage obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular diseases. However, with the confirmed association between the frequency of spicy food consumption and obesity, questions arose about the impact of peppers on obesity risk.

In response, a recent research team analyzed 6,138 Americans aged 20 and over from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) conducted between 2003 and 2006. They surveyed the frequency of chili pepper consumption over the past 12 months. Pregnant women and participants without information on chili consumption, body mass index (BMI), and total calorie intake were excluded.

Participants self-reported demographic and lifestyle factors, including age, gender, education level, economic income, smoking status, alcohol consumption, physical activity, and chronic disease history such as diabetes and hypertension. About 51% of the participants were women, and 34% were classified as obese based on their BMI.

The research team divided the participants into three groups: those who do not eat chili peppers (less than once a month, 17%), those who occasionally eat chili peppers (less than once a week, 74%), and those who frequently eat chili peppers (at least once a week, 9%).

They then estimated the participants’ dietary and nutritional intake habits for at least 2 days from NHANES and calculated their average intake of calories, protein, carbohydrates, fat, sugar, and fiber. Additionally, they conducted a statistical analysis according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines to investigate the relationship between chili pepper consumption and obesity prevalence among American adults.

The analysis found that the average BMI of the three groups was similar, around 28.3 to 29.0, but the risk of obesity increased with the frequency of chili consumption.

The obesity rates for the groups that rarely, occasionally, and frequently eat chili peppers were 30%, 35%, and 38%, respectively. The average BMI of the group that frequently eats chili peppers was 0.71 higher than that of the group that does not eat chili peppers.

The research team concluded that the group that eats chili peppers the most often had a 55% higher risk of obesity than the group that does not and that frequent consumption of chili peppers increases BMI and the risk of obesity. They added that the impact of chili consumption on obesity and BMI was particularly pronounced in women and older people over 60.

Meanwhile, experts cautioned that this study does not establish a causal relationship between the frequency of chili pepper consumption and the risk of obesity. They also suggested that while regulating the frequency of chili pepper consumption may help with weight management, healthily eating chili peppers rather than not eating them at all is preferable.

They mentioned that chili peppers are often used in high-fat, high-calorie foods, so frequent chili consumption usually leads to frequent high-calorie food consumption. They also explained that chili peppers are nutrient-rich foods high in flavonoids, carotenoids, vitamins C, A, B6, and iron, which can help with weight loss.

Experts recommend pairing chili peppers with low-calorie vegetables and adopting healthy eating habits alongside regular exercise to promote weight loss. This combination can enhance your diet’s effectiveness by leveraging the metabolic benefits of chili peppers while maintaining a balanced intake of nutrients.

Daniel Kim
content@viewusglobal.com

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