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23-12-2010 | Stroke | Article

Fried fish adds to Stroke Belt woes

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MedWire News: Residents of the "Stroke Belt" eat more fried fish than people in the rest of the USA and have lower than recommended intake of nonfried fish, shows an analysis of the REGARDS study.

"These differences in fish consumption may be one of the potential reasons for the racial and geographic differences in stroke incidence and mortality," said study author Fadi Nahab from Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, USA.

The REGARDS (Reasons for Geographic and Racial Differences in Stroke) study involves a cohort of 30,239 people from across the USA, but with oversampling (66%) from North and South Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas, and Louisiana - the area known as the Stroke Belt because of the high stroke incidence and mortality.

The current analysis included 21,675 participants who answered at least 85% of questions on the Block98 Food Frequency Questionnaire. Of these, just 23% consumed the recommended minimum two servings of nonfried fish per week.

Stroke Belt residents were 17% less likely than non-Belt residents to eat the recommended two servings of nonfried fish per week, Nahab and team report in the journal Neurology.

Moreover, they were 32% more likely to eat at least two portions of fried fish per week.

The researchers comment that fried fish in the USA is predominantly lean rather than fatty fish, and so contains fewer omega 3 fatty acids. "In addition, the act of frying fish has been associated with loss of natural fatty acids in the fish and replacement with cooking oil," they add.

REGARDS also oversampled African Americans, due to their increased stroke rates relative to White Americans. The present analysis shows that, although African-American participants ate more fish overall than did White participants, at 2.42 versus 1.89 servings per week, most of this difference came from fried fish.

African Americans were no less likely than Whites to eat the recommended amount of nonfried fish, but they were 3.59 times more likely to eat more fried fish than is considered healthy.

All associations were independent of age, gender, education, income, and total energy intake.

MedWire (www.medwire-news.md) is an independent clinical news service provided by Current Medicine Group, a trading division of Springer Healthcare Limited. © Springer Healthcare Ltd; 2010

By Eleanor McDermid