Research Update: Vegetarian Diets and Weight

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There’s a new study in town, and its results indicate that vegetarian diets may aid weight management efforts.

Let’s take a look at exactly what this means.

A team of researchers from the Physicians Committee reviewed 15 studies from 6 countries — the U.S., Spain, Finland, Poland, Sweden, and Norway. These studies had a total of over 700 participants, and the length of the studies ranged between 1 month and 2 years. Though the quality of the studies varied, the overall message was clear. Vegetarian diets can improve weight loss efforts. After sifting through all the data, the research committee concluded, “The prescription of vegetarian diets reduces mean body weight, suggesting potential value for prevention and management of weight-related conditions” (source).

In their study, A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Changes in Body Weight in Clinical Trials of Vegetarian Diets, the researchers revealed that the average weight loss that accompanies a switch to a vegetarian diet is roughly 10 pounds, but that heavier people tend to lose even more weight when they choose a vegetarian diet. One research review quoted,

“The take-home message is that a plant-based diet can help you lose weight without counting calories and without ramping up your exercise routine,” says Neal Barnard, M.D., lead author of the study, president of the Physicians Committee, and an adjunct associate professor of medicine at the George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences. “We hope health care providers will take note and prescribe this approach to patients looking to manage their weight and health” (source).

The study authors also emphasized the importance of even a little weight loss for those people who are overweight or obese, highlighting the effect of weight loss on decreased risk of disease and improved health. Another article featured this quote from another lead author on the study,

“If you’re overweight, losing just 5 to 10 percent of your body weight can slash the risk of both type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease,” says Susan Levin, M.S., R.D., C.S.S.D., a study author and director of nutrition education for the Physicians Committee. “As the weight comes off, you’ll start to see blood pressure, blood sugar, triglycerides, and cholesterol fall right along with it” (source).

So what’s the bottom line?

Switching to a vegetarian diet can make it easier to lose weight, which in turn can help people reduce their risk of chronic disease.

For more information about this study, check out…

And for more information about switching to a vegetarian diet, try…

“Copyright foodandhealth.com, reprinted with permission”

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