Plant-Based Diets: A Little Goes a Long Way

Charles P. Vega, MD


June 25, 2018

Hello. I'm Dr Charles Vega, and I am a clinical professor of family medicine at the University of California at Irvine. Welcome to Medscape Morning Report, our 1-minute news story for primary care.

Adopting a vegetarian or semi-vegetarian diet to lose weight and improve health may not be as onerous as once thought, because people can experience health benefits even if they only partially switch to a plant-based diet.

Researchers analyzed 20 years of data from almost 10,000 adults with a mean age of 64 years participating in the ongoing prospective Rotterdam Study. In an analysis presented at the European Congress on Obesity, they found that increasing the proportion of plant-based foods in the diet was associated with reductions in body mass index (BMI), fat mass, and waist circumference, even after taking potential confounders into account.

This approach did not require a radical change in one's diet. For example, replacing 50 g of red meat with 200 g of vegetables daily was associated with, on average, a BMI reduction of 0.7 kg/m2. The lead author of the study speculated that learning of the small changes needed to equate to clear benefits may increase the confidence of those struggling with obesity.


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