Vegetarian and carnivorous children have similar growth and nutrition, study finds | Health

A study published in the journal Pediatrics concluded that children who follow a vegetarian diet have similar growth and nutritional measurements to those who follow a meat-eating diet. The researchers also found that a vegetarian diet was associated with a greater likelihood of being underweight.

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Researchers from St. Michael’s Hospital of Unity Health Toronto, Canada, analyzed data from nearly 9,000 children, aged six months to eight years, between the years 2008 and 2019. Participants were categorized by vegetarian status (excluding meat) and not vegetarian.

According to the study, vegetarian children had similar average body mass index (BMI), height, iron, vitamin D and cholesterol levels as those who ate meat. There was also no evidence of an association with overweight or obesity.

“This study demonstrates that Canadian vegetarian children have similar growth and biochemical indicators of nutrition to non-vegetarian children,” said Jonathon Maguire, lead study author and pediatrician at St. Michel’s.

The researchers point to diet quality as a limitation of the study. They stressed the importance of following up with healthcare professionals to monitor toddlers’ growth and nutrition.

“A vegetarian diet was associated with a greater likelihood of being underweight, underscoring the need for careful meal planning for underweight children when considering a vegetarian diet,” Maguire warned.

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