Author(s): Newby PK, Tucker KL, Wolk A
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Abstract BACKGROUND: Observational studies suggest that a plant-based diet is inversely related to body mass index (BMI), overweight, and obesity. OBJECTIVE: Our objective was to examine the BMI (kg/m(2)) and risk of overweight and obesity of self-defined semivegetarian, lactovegetarian, and vegan women. DESIGN: Data analyzed in this cross-sectional study were from 55459 healthy women participating in the Swedish Mammography Cohort. Women were asked whether they considered themselves to be omnivores (n = 54257), semivegetarians (n = 960), lactovegetarians (n = 159), or vegans (n = 83), and this question was the main exposure variable in this study. In secondary analyses, we reclassified women as lactovegetarians on the basis of food intakes reported on the food-frequency questionnaire. RESULTS: The prevalence of overweight or obesity (BMI >/= 25) was 40\% among omnivores, 29\% among both semivegetarians and vegans, and 25\% among lactovegetarians. In multivariate, adjusted logistic regression analyses, self-identified vegans had a significantly lower risk of overweight or obesity [odds ratio (OR) = 0.35; 95\% CI: 0.18, 0.69] than did omnivores, as did lactovegetarians (OR = 0.54; 95\% CI: 0.35, 0.85) and semivegetarians (OR = 0.52; 95\% CI: 0.43, 0.62). Risk of overweight or obesity remained significantly lower among lactovegetarians classified on the basis of the food-frequency questionnaire (OR = 0.48; 95\% CI: 0.30, 0.78). CONCLUSIONS: Even if vegetarians consume some animal products, our results suggest that self-identified semivegetarian, lactovegetarian, and vegan women have a lower risk of overweight and obesity than do omnivorous women. The advice to consume more plant foods and less animal products may help individuals control their weight.
This article was published in Am J Clin Nutr
and referenced in Journal of Obesity & Weight Loss Therapy