Scientists from the Steno Diabetes Center Copenhagen found that a 12-week vegan diet may result in clinically meaningful weight loss and improve blood sugar control in overweight adults and those with type 2 diabetes.
But vegan diet did not affect blood pressure or triglycerides (a type of fat in the blood) compared to other diets.
The research was presented at European Congress on Obesity and was conducted by Anne-Ditte Termannsen et al.
In the study, the team reviewed 11 published research involving 796 individuals (average age ranging from 48 to 61 years) with overweight (BMI of 25 kg/m2 or over) or type 2 diabetes.
Vegan diets that are rich in fruits, vegetables, nuts, legumes and seeds, without all animal-derived foods.
The team compared the effect of vegan diets to other types of diets on cardiometabolic risk factors—body weight, body mass index [BMI], blood sugar levels, blood pressure, total cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (so-called ‘bad cholesterol’), high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, and triglycerides.
Vegan diets were compared with either passive control groups (participants continuing a normal diet with no dietary changes) or active control groups (participants following other dietary interventions such as Mediterranean diets, different diabetes diets, or portion-controlled diets).
The team found that compared with control diets, vegan diets strongly reduced body weight (effect average -4.1 kg) and BMI (-1.38 kg/m2).
But the effects on blood sugar level (-0.18 %-points), total cholesterol (-0.30 mmol/L) and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (-0.24 mmol/L) were rather small.
Further analyses found even greater reductions in body weight and BMI when vegan diets were compared with continuing a normal diet without dietary changes (-7.4 kg and -2.78 kg/m2respectively), than compared with other intervention diets (-2.7 kg and -0.87 kg/m2).
The team says the evidence shows that adhering to a vegan diet for at least 12 weeks may lead to 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 fiber.
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