Strapped in the South

Diets high in fried fish may contribute to cardiovascular events in "stroke belt" states

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Diets high in fried fish in the South, along the nation's "stroke belt," may contribute to an increased death rate from stroke.

North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee, Arkansas and Louisiana make up the so-called stoke belt, where the study found that people living in these states eat more fried fish than people in the rest of the country. African-Americans, they found, also consume more fried fish than Caucasians. Frying fish leads to a loss of heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids.

Fadi Nahab of Emory University in Atlanta and a member of the American Academy of Neurology said the difference in the type of fish consumption may, in part, account for racial and geographic disparities among increased stroke incidents and death rates from stroke.

The study analyzed 21,675 people participating in the Reasons for Geographic And Racial Differences in Stroke (REGARDS) study who were age 65 on average. Some 21 percent in the study hailed from the stroke buckle (North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia), where mortality rates from stroke are higher than in the remainder of the belt, while the rest of the participants came from the 40 other contiguous states (44 percent) and the remaining stroke belt (34 percent). The study involved an in-home physical evaluation and a questionnaire asking how often respondents ate oysters, shellfish, tuna, fried fish and other non-fried fish.

Fewer than a quarter of participants ate the American Heart Association-recommended two or more servings of non-fried fish per week in the entire study. Those in the stroke buckle were 11 percent less likely to eat the recommended amount, and those in the rest of the belt were 17 percent less likely than the rest of the population.

African-Americans were three-and-one-half times more likely to eat fried fish two or more times a week than Caucasians, according to the study, and those in the stroke belt were 30 percent more likely to do so than the rest of the country.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
December 23, 2010
Last Updated:
December 27, 2010