New Study, from WebMD-I love it!! Ashley, you will too!
06/27/05 11:32 AM
June 27, 2005
Vegetarian Women Weigh Less Than Meat-Eaters
By Amy Norton
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Women who eat little or no meat are less likely to be overweight than their more carnivorous peers, according to a new study.
The findings, say researchers, suggest that replacing some meat and other animal products with plant-based fare may help people control their weight.
The study of more than 55,000 Swedish women found that those who identified themselves as vegetarian or vegan tended to weigh less than meat-eaters, and were less likely to be overweight or obese.
The vegetarian group included women who ate no meat, fish or eggs but did consume dairy products (lactovegetarians), as well as "semivegetarians," who said they sometimes ate fish or eggs. Vegans eat no animal products, including dairy.
In the study, self-proclaimed vegans were two-thirds less likely than meat-eaters to be overweight or obese, while the two vegetarian groups were about half as likely as meat-eaters to be overweight -- even with other factors, such as age, exercise and total calorie intake, taken into account.
While this was not a weight-loss study, the findings do suggest that a plant-based diet may aid in weight control, according to P. Kirstin Newby, a researcher at Tufts University in Boston.
But that doesn't necessarily mean shunning meat and other animal products, she told Reuters Health, noting that semivegetarians in the study had a lower risk of being overweight.
The study, in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, included 55,459 healthy middle-aged and older women who were surveyed about their eating habits, weight and other health and lifestyle factors. A small percentage identified themselves as vegan or vegetarian.
Overall, vegans had the lowest average body mass index (BMI) -- a measure of weight in relation to height -- followed by vegetarians, then meat-eaters. While 40 percent of meat-eaters were overweight or obese, only 25 to 29 percent of vegetarians and vegans were, Newby and her colleagues report.
The findings, they point out, run counter to the current "fad" of high-protein, low-carbohydrate diets.
That vegetarians are leaner than meat-eaters, according to the researchers, highlights the fact that not all carbohydrates are equal. A diet of fiber-rich carbs like fruits, vegetables and whole grains, they note, differs from one loaded with refined carbohydrates such as those in white bread and snack foods.
"Plant foods are generally high-carb," Newby said, "but they also contain a lot of fiber -- which helps you to feel full -- and they also have other nutrients that are important to overall health."
Because these nutrients may help ward off heart disease and cancer, she noted, there are "lots of good reasons" besides weight control to eat a plant-based diet.
For people who do eat animal products, Newby added, it's important to limit saturated fat by choosing lean cuts of meat and low-fat dairy products.
SOURCE: American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, June 2005.
Reuters 2005. All Rights Reserved.
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