Vegan diets can help people who are overweight or have type 2 diabetes lose weight and lower their blood sugar levels, research suggests.
A meta analysis showed that adhering to a vegan diet over three months reduced body weight by about 4.1kg (9lb) on average compared with control diets, and cut blood sugar levels. There was little or no effect on blood pressure or levels of cholesterol or triglycerides, a type of fat.
The data was drawn from 11 randomised trials including 796 people who were overweight with a body mass index (BMI) of at least 25 or who had type 2 diabetes. The results were presented at the European Congress on Obesity.
Anne-Ditte Termannsen, of the Steno Diabetes Centre in Copenhagen, who led the research, said: “This rigorous assessment of the best available evidence to date indicates with reasonable certainty that adhering to a vegan diet for at least 12 weeks may result in clinically meaningful weight loss and improve blood sugar levels, and therefore can be used in the management of overweight and type 2 diabetes.
“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.”
A second piece of research presented at the conference in Maastricht found women were more likely than men to gain weight during the first year of the Covid-19 pandemic. In both sexes, people under the age of 45 were more likely to pile on extra pounds than older age groups.
The research covering almost 1 million adults in the UK used data from the Clinical Practice Research Datalink (CPRD) of more than 200,000 UK GP practices, which includes information on BMI just before lockdown in March 2020, and in the year or so afterwards.
Prof Thomas Yates, of the University of Leicester, said: “The implications of even modest weight gain at a population level in younger adults and women could translate into more diabetes, heart disease, cancers and other serious obesity-related health problems over the coming decades in these populations unless action is taken to reverse the effects of lockdown.”
A third study found that toddlers eat more vegetables if they are rewarded for trying them. A three-month research programme on children on aged one to four at nurseries in Limburg, in the Netherlands, found that giving children rewards such as stickers or small toy crowns may help them develop a taste for healthy food.
Britt van Belkom, of Maastricht University, who carried out the study, said the type of reward was very important. “It should be fun but not food,” she said.