The Secret to Long-Term Weight Loss Might Be a Vegan Diet, Research Finds
New Study in Obesity Shows a Vegan Diet with Social Support Helps People Lose More Weight Over Two-Year Period than Conventional Low-Fat Diet
WASHINGTON—A new study in September’s Obesity shows that a vegan diet helps people lose more weight and keep it off more effectively than a more conventional low-fat diet that includes meat and dairy products. Social support in the form of group meetings was also associated with greater sustained weight loss, according to the study’s authors, who include health experts with the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM).
The study included 64 overweight, postmenopausal women randomly assigned to either a low-fat vegan diet or a more conventional low-fat diet following the National Cholesterol Education Program (NCEP) guidelines. Participants in each group received either no follow-up support after the initial 14 weeks or continued group support meetings for two years. The vegan group lost a median of 11 pounds at one year, compared with four pounds for the control group. By the two-year point, the vegan group had lost approximately seven pounds from baseline, compared with approximately two pounds for the control group. Participants in both groups who attended support meetings lost more weight at one and two years.
“People on the vegan diet shed more unwanted pounds, and avoiding meat and dairy products also helped study participants achieve the Holy Grail of dieting—significant weight loss sustained over several years,” said lead author Gabrielle M. Turner-McGrievy, M.S., R.D., a PCRM nutrition scientist and doctoral candidate in nutrition at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. “This study offers more evidence that vegan diets could help combat our country’s surging obesity rates.”
In the study—which Turner-McGrievy co-authored with Neal D. Barnard, M.D., and Anthony R. Scialli, M.D.—vegan participants consumed plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and other plant-based foods, but did not eat meat, eggs, or dairy products.
Founded in 1985, the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine is a nonprofit health organization that promotes preventive medicine, conducts clinical research, and encourages higher standards for ethics and effectiveness in research.