A 12-week vegan diet may result in clinically meaningful weight loss and improved blood sugar control in overweight adults and those with type 2 diabetes, according to a meta-analysis of 11 randomised trials involving almost 800 participants aged 18 or older.
For the analysis, the researchers pooled the results from 11 randomised trials, published up to March 2022, involving almost 800 participants aged 18 or older. All trials compared the effect of vegan diets to other types of diets on cardiometabolic risk factors, including body weight, body mass index (BMI), blood sugar levels, blood pressure, total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol (so-called ‘bad cholesterol’), HDL cholesterol, and blood triglycerides.
Vegan diets were compared with either control groups (participants continuing normal diet with no dietary changes) or participants following other diets such as the Mediterranean diet, various diabetes diets, or portion-controlled diets.
Data were analysed for 796 individuals (average age 48 to 61 years) with overweight or type 2 diabetes. The trials lasted for at least 12 weeks and considered a weight loss of at least 5 kg (11 lbs) to be clinically meaningful.
Analyses found that, compared with control diets, vegan diets significantly reduced body weight and BMI. But the effects on blood sugar, total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol were rather small.
Even greater reductions in body weight and BMI were found when vegan diets were compared with continuing a normal diet without dietary changes, than when compared with other intervention diets. Vegan diets likely lead to weight loss because they are associated with a reduced calorie intake due to a lower content of fat and higher content of dietary fibre. More evidence is needed, however, regarding other cardiometabolic measures.
A limitation of the findings was the small sample size of most of the studies. As well, the vegan diets varied in carbohydrate, protein and fat content. It’s possible that health benefits of a vegan diet may result from differences in macronutrient composition or calorie intake between the groups.
Source: European Congress on Obesity 2022, May 5, 2022.
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