02 May 2011

Vegetarians at lower risk for metabolic syndrome

A recent study by researchers at Loma Linda University showed that vegetarians had a 36% lower prevalence of metabolic syndrome compared with people who ate animals.

Good news, except, what the heck is metabolic syndrome?

Well, according to Wikipedia, metabolic syndrome is a combination of disorders that, when mixed together, dramatically increase the risk of heart disease and diabetes. Metabolic syndrome affects about one in five Americans and seems to be brought on by factors such as stress, obesity, a sedentary lifestyle and now – according to the new Loma Linda University Adventist Health Study 2 – perhaps an animal-based diet.

The study found that 25% of vegetarians (people who ate meat, poultry or fish less than once a month) had metabolic syndrome.  That number increased to 37% for semi-vegetarians (people who ate fish regularly and other meats less than once a month) and to 39% for non-vegetarians.

“Trending toward a plant-based diet is a sensible choice,” said Gary Fraser, MD, PhD, principal investigator of the study.

The Adventist Health Study 2 is a long-term study of the health of 96,000 Seventh-Day Adventist across the United States and Canada—this particular study focused on a random sampling of 700 participants.

I find it interesting to note that, despite the fact those who avoided meat were less likely to end up with metabolic syndrome, still a full 25% of those vegetarians who participated in the study had the disease.

It’s a good reminder that a vegetarian diet is not necessarily a healthy diet.

Sara Best | @shbest
Sara was literally born into the animal welfare movement. While growing up, her father worked with various organizations on campaigns from the Canadian seal hunt to the slaughter of dogs in the Philippines to the ivory trade in Africa. Eventually, Sara became involved in animal protection projects herself. Now she is a writer living near Toronto, a mom to two little omnivores and married to one dedicated carnivore. Visit Sara's blog.

Photo credit: cc: flickr.com/photos/theotherdan