January 2006 : Doctors with the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) suggest a new approach to weight loss based on a recent study showing that a low-fat vegan diet is an effective way to shed unwanted pounds.
PCRM's weight-loss study, published in September in The American Journal of Medicine, showed that a low-fat, plant-based diet is more effective at helping women lose weight and improve insulin sensitivity than an omnivorous diet.
"The study participants following the vegan diet enjoyed unlimited servings of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and other healthful foods that enabled them to lose weight without feeling hungry," says Dr. Neal Barnard, the study's lead author. "Anyone who wants to make healthy changes in the New Year will do well to try a plant-based diet."
Other scientific studies support the obesity-fighting power of plant-based diets. In a recent study of more than 55,000 Swedish women, Tufts University researcher P. Kirstin Newby and her colleagues found that 40 percent of meat-eaters were overweight or obese while only 25 to 29 percent of vegetarians and vegans were. Worldwide, vegetarian populations experience lower rates of heart disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure.
The simplicity of a vegan diet appeals to people busy with work and family, and many familiar recipes are easy to adapt. At least four studies published in peer-reviewed journals show that patients give the low-fat vegetarian diet a high rating in terms of acceptability, and that the transition only takes about three weeks or less.
PCRM offers a free Vegetarian Starter Kit, which includes recipes, nutrition information, and a three-step plan for moving to a healthier diet. The kit is available online at www.GoVegetarian.org.
Source: Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine