Healthy plant-based diets associated with less weight gain over time


Researchers from Harvard (under the supervision of Dr Frank Hu) looked at data from three large cohorts—the Nurses’ Health Study, the Nurses’ Health Study 2, and the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study—for a total of 126,982 adult participants with more than 20 years of follow-up.

On average, participants gained a mean of 0.90 kg (HPFS) to 1.98 kg (NHS2) over 4-y intervals. Different types of plant-based diet indices were associated with different amounts of weight gain.

  • A 1-SD increase in intake of a healthful version of a plant-based diet index (emphasizing whole grains, fruits/vegetables, nuts/legumes, vegetable oils, tea/coffee) was associated with 0.68 kg less weight gain over 4-y periods (95% CI: 0.69, 0.66 kg; P < 0.001).
  • A1-SD increase in an unhealthful version of a plant-based diet index (emphasizing refined grains, potato/fries, sweets, sweetened drinks/juices) was associated with 0.36 kg more weight gain (95% CI: 0.34, 0.37 kg, P < 0.001).
People who eat more healthful plant-based foods (whole grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts and legumes) are less likely to gain weight over the years compared with those who ate less healthful products and animal-based products.

Reference: Satija A, Malik V, Rimm EB, Sacks F, Willett W, Hu FB. Changes in intake of plant-based diets and weight change: results from 3 prospective cohort studies. Am J Clin Nutr. Published ahead of print May 25, 2019.

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