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Women who consumed more whole grains consistently weighed less than women who consumed less whole grains, according to a Harvard study that examined the relationship between intake of dietary fiber and whole or refined-grain foods and weight gain. The study began in 1984 and included 74,091 U.S. nurses between the ages of 38 and 63 who were free of cardiovascular disease, cancer and diabetes. Over the next 12 years, their dietary habits were assessed - in 1984, 1986, 1990, and 1994 - with food frequency questionnaires. Researchers took into account subjects' weight, body mass index (BMI), long-term weight changes and odds ratio of developing obesity. Results showed women with the lowest intake of dietary fiber gained an average of 1.52 kg more compared to women with the highest intake of dietary fiber; women in the lowest quintile of dietary fiber intake had a 49 percent higher risk of major weight gain compared to women in the highest quintile. The researchers concluded: "Weight gain was inversely associated with the intake of high-fiber, whole-grain foods, but positively related to the intake of refined-grain foods."