A Vegetarian Dietary
as a Nutrient-Dense Approach to Weight Management: An Analysis
National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES)
Bonnie Farmer, MS, RD; Brian T. Larson, PhD; Victor L. Fulgoni
PhD; Alice J. Rainville, PhD, RD; George U. Liepa, PhD
of the American Dietetic Association; Volume 111,
Issue 6 , Pages 819-827, June 2011
B. Farmer is principal member, PlantWise Nutrition Consulting,
Plainwell, MI; at the time of the study, she was a graduate
School of Health Sciences, Eastern Michigan University,
B. T. Larson is vice president, research and development, JG
Services, LLC, Dowling, MI; at time of the study, he was a
nutrition scientist, Kellogg Company, Battle Creek, MI.
V. L. Fulgoni is senior vice president, Nutrition Impact, LLC,
A. J. Rainville is professor of nutrition and dietetics, Eastern
Michigan University, Ypsilanti.
G. U. Liepa is professor of nutrition and dietetics, Eastern
Population-based studies have shown that vegetarians have lower
mass index than nonvegetarians, suggesting that vegetarian diet
may be an approach for weight management. However, a perception
that vegetarian diets are deficient in certain nutrients.
To compare dietary quality of vegetarians, nonvegetarians, and
and to test the hypothesis that a vegetarian diet would not
nutrient intake when used to manage body weight.
Cross-sectional analysis of National Health and Nutrition
Survey (1999-2004) (NHANES)dietary and anthropometric data. Diet
quality was determined using United States Department of
Healthy Eating Index 2005. Participants included adults aged 19
and older, excluding pregnant and lactating women (N=13,292). Lacto-ovo
diets were portrayed by intakes of participants who did not eat
poultry, or fish on the day of the survey (n=851).
diets were portrayed by intakes of participants who consumed 500
less than their estimated energy requirements (n=4,635). Mean
intakes and body mass indexes were adjusted for energy, sex, and
ethnicity. Using analysis of variance, all vegetarians were
all nonvegetarians, dieting vegetarians to dieting nonvegetarians,
nondieting vegetarians to nondieting nonvegetarians.
Mean intakes of
Although vegetarian intakes of vitamin E, vitamin A, and
exceeded that of nonvegetarians (8.3±0.3 vs 7.0±0.1
718±28 vs 603±10 μg; 322±5 vs 281±2
both groups had intakes that were less than desired. The Healthy
Index score did not differ for all vegetarians compared to all
nonvegetarians (50.5±0.88 vs 50.1±0.33, P=0.6).
- vitamins A, C, and E,
- thiamin, riboflavin, folate,
- calcium, magnesium, and iron were higher for all
than for all nonvegetarians.
These findings suggest that vegetarian diets are nutrient dense,
consistent with dietary guidelines, and could be recommended for
management without compromising diet quality.