Vegan diets are high in fruits, vegetables, nuts, legumes and seeds and have no animal-derived foods.
The meta-analysis of 11 studies published through March 2022 that included a total of nearly 800 people found that following a vegan diet for at least 12 weeks helped people lose weight and lower their blood sugar, more so than a Mediterranean diet, different diabetes diets or portion-controlled diets did.
Compared with the other diets, vegan diets significantly reduced weight (an average of 9 pounds) and body mass index or BMI (a person's weight in kilograms divided by the square of height in meters, or kg/m2) by -1.38 kg/m2.
The researchers found even greater reductions in body weight and BMI when they compared vegan diets to a normal diet (16.3 pounds and -2.78 kg/m2, respectively) than when comparing other diets to a normal diet (6 pounds and -0.87 kg/m2).
Vegan diets also led to slight improvements in blood sugar levels, total cholesterol and "bad" LDL cholesterol, but had little effect on blood pressure or triglycerides compared to other diets, according to the study presented at the European Congress on Obesity, May 4-7, in the Netherlands.
“This rigorous assessment of the best available evidence to date indicates with reasonable certainty that adhering to a vegan diet for at least 12 weeks may result in clinically meaningful weight loss and improve blood sugar levels, and therefore can be used in the management of overweight and type 2 diabetes," said study author Anne-Ditte Termannsen, from the Steno Diabetes Center in Copenhagen, Denmark.
“Vegan diets likely lead to weight loss because they are associated with a reduced calorie intake due to a lower content of fat and higher content of dietary fiber," she added in a meeting news release. "However, more evidence is needed regarding other cardiometabolic outcomes.”
To learn more about a vegan diet, go to the American Academy of Family Physicians.
SOURCE: European Congress on Obesity, news release, May 5, 2022