According to the research results that were recently reported as the result of a small study conducted by the Cleveland Clinic, children suffering from obesity and high cholesterol who ate a complete and strict vegan diet that had little added fat showed significant improvement in their weight as well as their risk factors of heart disease in just a short month.
The children who participated ranged in age from 9 to 18. They were mostly white, from middle class backgrounds and they volunteered to try one of the 2 healthy eating plans used in the study. Two separate groups of 14 children were assigned randomly, alongside a parent, to follow either a completely plant-based, no added fat (PB) diet, or an AHA (American Heart Association) diet. The AHA diet is similar to the PB diet except it allows non-whole grains, certain specific plant oils, low-fat dairy foods and fish and lean meats in moderation.
After one month, the children from both of the study groups had lost weight as well as improved their MPPO (myeloperoxidase), which is a blood test that is conducted to measure inflammation associated with the risk of heart disease. The children who were on the vegan diet also had significant improvement in their body mass index, systolic blood pressure, total cholesterol levels, total LDL (low density lipoprotein, aka “bad cholesterol”), insulin levels and creative protein (another indicator of inflammation) when compared the baseline.
The study was published online in the Journal of Pediatrics. It was too small of a study to give a toe-to-toe comparison between the 2 different diets; however, the study results do suggest an added benefit for both weight as well as heart health from the more strict vegan diet. This was a claim by the lead author of the study, a Cleveland Clinic pediatrician. Dr. Macknin.
It was an exciting study to Macknin who felt that if the kids could eat that way, hopefully they could grow up into adulthood and not have cardiovascular disease risk factors. Macknin believes that the study gives good reason for looking further into the vegan, plant-based diets with no added fat as the “scrip” for the prevention of health problems in the future for obese and overweight adolescents and children.
Vegetarian diets are supported for a healthy heart in adults, however, there has been little studies done on children. This is primarily due to the fact that health concerns like high cholesterol, high blood pressure and inflammation used to be unheard of when it comes to occurrences in children. But, with obesity now affecting almost 18% of 6 to 11 year old children as well as 21% of adolescents, high blood pressure, pre-diabetes and high cholesterol have all become more common.
All of the children who participated in the study suffered from high cholesterol, which is a risk factor for heart attacks, strokes and heart disease.
Cardiovascular disease starts in childhood, and the concern is high cholesterol could increase their risk for a consequent heart attack. It’s good to lower it during childhood or adolescence in order to prevent the risk later in life.