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LETTER TO EDITOR Table of Contents   
Year : 2010  |  Volume : 35  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 441-442

Comparative risk of type 2 diabetes mellitus among vegetarians and non-vegetarians

1 Department of Biochemistry, College of Medicine, King Khaled University, Abha, Saudi Arabia
2 Department of Community Medicine, Khaja Banda Nawaz Institute of Medical Sciences, Gulbarga, India
3 Department of Pathology, Al-Ameen Medical College and Hospital, Bijapur, Karnataka, India

Date of Submission22-Aug-2009
Date of Acceptance16-Jun-2010
Date of Web Publication13-Sep-2010

Correspondence Address:
Gaffar Sarwar Zaman
Department of Biochemistry, College of Medicine, King Khaled University, Abha
Saudi Arabia
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/0970-0218.69285

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How to cite this article:
Zaman GS, Zaman FA, Arifullah M. Comparative risk of type 2 diabetes mellitus among vegetarians and non-vegetarians. Indian J Community Med 2010;35:441-2

How to cite this URL:
Zaman GS, Zaman FA, Arifullah M. Comparative risk of type 2 diabetes mellitus among vegetarians and non-vegetarians. Indian J Community Med [serial online] 2010 [cited 2020 Apr 8];35:441-2. Available from: http://www.ijcm.org.in/text.asp?2010/35/3/441/69285


The prevalence of type 2 diabetes in vegetarians was compared to that in non-vegetarians in 724 people in the Bijapur district of Karnataka in a hospital-based survey. The type of vegetarian diet was categorized based on a food-frequency questionnaire. A vegetarian diet, in the broad sense, is defined as the one that does not include meat, fish, or fowl. An ovolactovegetarian is a th vegetarian who does not eat beef, lamb, pork, poultry, fish, shellfish, or animal flesh of any kind, but is willing to consume th dairy and th egg products. Pescetarianism, also called pescovegetarianism, is the practice of a th diet that includes th seafood and excludes th mammals and th birds. In addition to th fish or th shellfish, a pescetarian diet typically includes some or all of th vegetables, th fruit, th nuts, th grains, th beans, th eggs, and th dairy. Vegetarian diets offer a number of nutritional benefits including lower levels of saturated fat, cholesterol, and animal protein as well as higher levels of carbohydrates, fiber, magnesium, potassium, folate, antioxidants such as vitamins C and E, and phytochemicals. [1] Vegans tend to be thinner, have lower serum cholesterol, and lower blood pressure, reducing their risk of heart diseases and diabetes mellitus. However, eliminating all animal products from the diet increases the risk of certain nutritional deficiencies. Micronutrients of special concern for the vegans include vitamins B 12 and D, calcium, and long-chain n-3 (omega-3) fatty acids. [2] On the other hand, the omission of meat and fish from the diet increases the risk of certain nutritional deficiencies. [3] There is convincing evidence that vegetarians have lower rates of coronary heart disease, largely explained by low LDL cholesterol, probable lower rates of hypertension and diabetes mellitus, and lower prevalence of obesity. [4] In our study, mean BMI was lowest in vegans (23.9 kg/m 2 ) and incrementally higher in ovolactovegetarians (25.9 kg/m 2 ), pescovegetarians (26.4 kg/m 2 ), semivegetarians (27.36 kg/m 2 ), and non-vegetarians (29.2 kg/m 2 ). The prevalence of type 2 diabetes increased from 3.1% in vegans to 8.2% in non-vegetarians; the prevalence was intermediate in ovolactovegetarians (3.6%), pescovegetarians (4.9%), or semi-vegetarians (6.4%). After adjustment for age, sex, ethnicity, education, income, physical activity, television watching, sleep habits, alcohol, and BMI, vegans (OR 0.53 [95% CI 0.36-0.60]), ovolactovegetarians (0.55 [0.47-0.64]), pescovegetarians (0.68 [0.61-0.78]), and semi-vegetarians (0.79 [0.64-0.88]) had a lower risk of type 2 diabetes than non-vegetarians . The results show that increased conformity to vegetarian diets protected against risk of type 2 diabetes.

   References Top

1.American Dietetic Association, Dietitians of Canada. Position of the American Dietetic Association and Dieticians of Canada: Vegetarian diets. Can J Diet Pract Res 2003;64:62-81.  Back to cited text no. 1  [PUBMED]    
2.Craig WJ. Health effects of vegan diets. Am J Clin Nutr 2009;89:1627S-33S.  Back to cited text no. 2  [PUBMED]  [FULLTEXT]  
3.Dagnelie PC. Nutrition and health--potential health benefits and risks of vegetarianism and limited consumption of meat in the Netherlands. Ned Tijdschr Geneeskd 2003;147:1308-13.  Back to cited text no. 3  [PUBMED]    
4.Fraser GE. Vegetarian diets: What do we know of their effects on some chronic diseases? Am J Clin Nutr 2009;89:1607S-12S.  Back to cited text no. 4  [PUBMED]  [FULLTEXT]  

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