A Comparison of Vegetarian Diets and the Standardized Western Diet in Nutrient Adequacy and Weight Status
Advisor:Taylor, Christopher Allen
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Publisher:The Ohio State University
Series/Report no.:The Ohio State University. Division of Medical Dietetics Undergraduate Research Theses; 2013
Over the past several decades, Americans have shifted how much and of what kinds of meats they consume, and sometimes totally exclude animal products. As many as 11% of Americans follow some kind of vegetarian diet, which have been linked to lower rates of obesity, heart disease, and diabetes mellitus; however, these diets may increase the likelihood of deficient in several key nutrients commonly obtained from meat-containing foods, such as calcium, iron, protein, and vitamin B12 . The objective of this research was to compare the nutritional and weight status among vegans (those who consumed no animal products), lacto-ovo vegetarians (consumed no meat but dairy and egg products), and omnivores (meat eaters). Dietary intakes from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) were recoded the diets into vegan, lacto-ovo vegetarians, and meat eaters based on the foods reported during their 24-hour dietary recall interview. Weight status was assessed using measured height and weight for body mass index (BMI) and waist circumference (WC). The nutrient intakes were compared to the recommended intakes of the Dietary Reference Intakes. Vegans and vegetarians were significantly less likely to be obese or centrally obese compared to meat eaters (P<0.001). Vegans and vegetarians had significantly lower total and energy-adjusted intakes of protein, calcium, vitamin C, and fiber, compared to omnivores (P<0.001). Less than a quarter of vegans met recommendations for intakes of protein, fiber, vitamin B12, calcium and magnesium (P<0.01). Despite having healthier weight status profile, vegans and vegetarians were more likely to have inadequate intakes of key nutrients needed to sustain a healthy lifestyle. Vegans and vegetarians may need education on the strengths and weaknesses of each diet to optimize their health status based on their lifestyle diet choice.
Related Item:Academic Major: Medical Dietetics
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