New analysis finds that following a vegan diet for at least 12 weeks may boost weight loss and glucose control in overweight adults or those with type 2 diabetes.
New research emerging from the European Congress on Obesity (ECO) in the Netherlands indicates 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. The meta-analysis of 11 randomised trials involved almost 800 participants aged 18 or older.
However, eating a diet that is rich in fruits, vegetables, nuts, legumes and seeds, with no animal-derived foods, did not affect blood pressure or triglycerides (a type of fat in the blood) compared to other diets.
The effects of a vegan diet
The researchers conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised trials that compared the effect of vegan diets to other diets on certain risk factors, for example, body weight and total cholesterol.
Vegan diets were analysed against either passive control groups (participants continuing a normal diet) or active control groups (participants following diets like the Mediterranean diet).
The average age ranged from 48 to 61 years who had an overweight BMI or type 2 diabetes. The trials lasted for 12 weeks minimum and considered weight loss of at least 5kg clinically meaningful.
Is eating vegan a weight loss solution?
The researchers found that compared to control diets, eating vegan significantly reduced body weight, with participants losing on average 4.1kg. However, 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.
Surprisingly, greater reductions in body weight and BMI were found when vegan diets were compared to the group following their normal diet, with an average of 7.4kg lost.
“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”, said author Anne-Ditte Termannsen, Copenhagen University Hospital. “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. However, more evidence is needed regarding other cardiometabolic outcomes.”