As global rates of obesity continue to rise, why not buck the trend and go vegan?

Obesity is a known risk factor for high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, certain types of cancer (breast, endometrial and bowel), and other chronic conditions, and vegans on average have lower rates.

  • “The Latest Obesity statistics for England are alarming” – NHS Choices Website
  • Between 1996 and 2011, obesity rates in the UK have almost doubled; 24% for men and 26% for women. In 2011, 9.5% of children aged 4-5 starting school were obese. In 2011, 53% of men and 44% of obese women were found to have high blood pressure. During 2011-2012, hospital admissions due to obesity was over 11 times higher than in 2001-2002.
  • In 2014, the National Obesity Forum released a report stating that, by 2050, half of the UK population will be obese at an annual cost of £50billion. In fact it went further, and said ‘this could be an underestimate.’
  • A meta-analysis of randomised trials published in 2016 in the Journal of General Internal Medicine, on the effect of vegetarian diets on obesity rates, found that vegetarian diets achieved significantly greater weight loss than energy restriction diets, and that subgroup analysis found that vegan diets produced greater weight loss than vegetarian diets.
  • A study published in 2015 in the journal Nutrition compared the effectiveness of five different diets for weight loss in overweight adults: vegan, vegetarian, pescatarian, reducetarian or omnivorous. Those on the vegan diet lost the most weight compared to any other group. The study concluded that: ‘Vegan diets may result in greater weight loss than more modest recommendations’.
  • In 2009, a study in Diabetes Care, on over 60,000 individuals, looked at the levels of obesity among vegans, vegetarians, pescatarians, semi-vegetarians and non-vegetarians. Weight was measured as ‘Body Mass Index’ (BMI, BMI = weight in kg, divided by your height in metres squared). A healthy BMI is considered to be 20-25, 25-30 is overweight, and over 30 is obese. The results were as follows:
Diet Average Body Mass Index (BMI)
Vegans 23.6
Vegetarians 25.7
Pescatarians 26.3
Semi-vegetarians 27.3
Non-vegetarians 28.8

Diabetes Care 2009 May

Studies have shown that, on average, vegans have a healthier Body Mass Index (measure of body fat based on height and weight) compared to omnivores and vegetarians. Trials of diets have also shown that being vegan is more effective than a low fat standard diet. A two year controlled trial in Obesity compared a moderate low fat diet to a vegan diet. The results showed that the vegans lost significantly more weight than those on the low fat diet.