Health Studies

Nutrient Profiles of Vegans Point to Lowest BMI

When researchers at Loma Linda University conducted a cross-sectional study of 71,715 subjects from the Adventist Health Study 2 to compare nutrient intakes between dietary patterns characterized by consumption or exclusion of meat and dairy products, they found a clear connection between diet type and weight among five groups: meat-eaters, semi-vegetarians, pescatarians, lacto-ovo vegetarians, and vegans.  Vegans were found to have the lowest average BMI, while meat-eaters showed the highest, along with the highest intake of heart-disease related fatty acids. Vegans also had the lowest occurrence of obesity (9%) compared to 33.3% of meat-eaters. The average age of study participants was 59.
Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. August 2013. (Rizzo, Jaceldo-Sigl, Sabate, Fraser.)
 

Med Diet Healthy and Affordable

A study published in the Journal of Hunger and Environmental Nutrition helps debunk the myth that the Mediterranean Diet is cost prohibitive for families on tight budgets. The Rhode Island Community Food Bank sponsored a six-week cooking program focused on plant-based cooking with olive oil. Study authors followed the 63 participants for six months to determine whether their grocery shopping and cooking habits changed as a result of the program. At the end of the study participants had decreased their total food expenses, purchases of meat, and consumption of "junk" food. Results also suggest that eating 2 to 3 vegetarian meals per week increases fruit and vegetable consumption and helps with weight control.
Journal of Hunger and Environmental Nutrition. March 2013; 8(1). [Epub 2013 March 14] [Flynn, Reinert & Schiff]

Med Diet Beneficial for Diabetes Management

Researchers in the United Kingdom reviewed results from 20 previous studies that compared the effects of seven different diets on 3,073 people with type 2 diabetes. They discovered that the Mediterranean Diet, as well as low-carbohydrate, low-glycemic index, and high-protein diets all helped subjects control blood sugar. The Mediterranean Diet also contributed to weight loss and increased levels of HDL (“good” cholesterol). Overall, researchers concluded that these four diets should be considered in the overall strategy of diabetes management.
American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2013 March. [Epub 2013 January 30] [Olubukola et al.]

Med Diet Assessment Tool Captures Obesity Risk

Spanish researchers involved with the PREDIMED Trial wanted to determine whether a 14-item Mediterranean Diet assessment tool could be used as a quicker and less expensive alternative to a 137-item food frequency questionnaire in predicting obesity risk. They found that the 14-items, considered those most typical of a traditional Mediterranean Diet, did indeed correlate to various obesity markers. High consumption of nuts and low consumption of sweetened sodas were most strongly associated with reduced likelihood of obesity.
PloS One. 2012; 7(8):e43134. [Epub 2012 Aug 14] [Martinez-González et al.]

Sugar-Sweetened Beverages and Obesity in Costa Rica

Commercially available sugar-sweetened beverages have not been traditionally consumed as part of the Costa Rican diet.  Because of the rising obesity rates in Latin American countries, researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health designed a study to determine the association between consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages and obesity in Hispanic adults in Costa Rica.  The study involved more than 2000 adults and compared sugar-sweetened beverage consumption to BMI and skinfold thickness.  Overall, higher consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages was associated with increased measures of adiposity and increased BMI in Costa Rican adults.
Public Health Nutrition, August 2012; 15(8): 1347-1354 (Rhee J et al.)

Fast Food Restaurants -- and Childhood Obesity -- Boom in China

This report documents the problem of childhood obesity in China.  One of the key contributing factors is the consumption of fast food.  Fast food establishments are growing rapidly in China.  Eating at McDonald’s is convenient for Chinese families and also signifies social status.
International Journal of Cardiology. 2012 June 14;157(3):315-317. (Cheng)

Green Tea May Aid Weight Control

Chinese researchers seeking to evaluate the effect of green tea in combination with inulin for potential impact on body weight and fat mass asked 30 obese and overweight adults to drink either regular tea or catechin-rich green tea with inulin, for six weeks.  Researchers concluded that continuous intake of green tea and inulin may support weight management, and that the positive effects continued were sustained two weeks after ending consumption.
British Journal of Nutrition.  2012 Mar; 107:749-754  (Yang et al.)

Obese Eat Fewer Fruits and Vegetables

The Health is Power (HIP) study was conducted in order to increase physical activity and improve the dietary habits in African American and Hispanic women in Texas.  HIP enrolled more than 400 women in a 5-year, multi-site study.  They found that obese women did not meet physical activity guidelines and consumed significantly fewer fruits and vegetables as compared to normal weight women regardless of ethnicity.
Journal of Community Health, December 2011; (Lee R et al.)

Med Diet More Effective Than Low-Fat Diet

Researchers at University Hospital in Basel, Switzerland systematically identified randomized controlled trials comparing Mediterranean to low-fat diets for overweight or obese subjects. Only those studies with a minimum follow-up of six month, and that included data on cardiovascular risk factors were included. The researchers concluded that, in the six studies examined, people assigned to the Med Diet group showed more weight loss, lower BMI, lower blood pressure, better blood sugar control, reduced cholesterol, and lower C-reactive protein than those following a low-fat diet in these interventions.

The American Journal of Medicine. September 2011; 124(9):841-851 e2

Med Diet Trumps Weight Loss in Reducing LDL

If you improve your eating habits, lose weight, and subsequently lower your LDL ("bad") cholesterol, is it the weight loss or the healthier eating that's responsible? That's the question scientists at Quebec's Laval University set out to answer when they asked 19 men with metabolic syndrome to follow a control Western diet (5 weeks), a Mediterranean diet without cutting calories (5 weeks), a calorie-restricted free-living diet (20 weeks), and then a calorie-restricted Mediterranean Diet (5 weeks). They found that the Mediterranean Diet in the absence of weight loss made the most significant reductions in unhealthy blood lipids.
British Journal of Nutrition
, July 26, 2011: 1-7 [Epub ahead of print]

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