Scientists are still trying to find a solution to the obesity epidemic affecting many children. A new study by Cleveland Clinic Children’s determined that a plant based diet lowers the rusk of cardiovascular disease by improving their weight, blood pressure, body mass index, cholesterol levels, insulin sensitivity, and high-sensitivity C-reactive.
The research participants consisted of 28 obese children with high cholesterol between ages of 9 and 18 who were fed a plant-based vegan diet to the American Heart Association (AHA). Those on the plant-based diet consumed plants and whole grains, with limited avocado and nuts, no added fat, and no animal products. The children on the American Heart Association diet consumed fruits, vegetables, whole grains and non-whole grains, limited sodium, low-fat dairy, selected plant oils, and lean meat and fish in moderation.
Medical evaluation of children revealed that they experienced significant improvements on the plant based diet in nine measures: BMI, systolic blood pressure, weight, mid-arm circumference, total cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, and insulin, as well as two common markers of heart disease, myeloperoxidase and high-sensitivity C-reactive protein. The children on the American Heart Association experienced significant improvements in four measures: weight, waist circumference, mid-arm circumference and myeloperoxidase.
“As the number of obese children with high cholesterol continues to grow, we need to have effective lifestyle modifications to help them reverse their risk factors for heart disease,” Dr. Macknin the lead study author said . “We’ve known that plant-based diets are beneficial in adults in preventing and possibly reversing heart disease. This study shows that the same may be true in children too, though more studies are needed. Cardiovascular disease begins in childhood. If we can see such significant improvements in a short four-week study, imagine the potential for improving long-term health into adulthood if a whole population of children began to eat these diets regularly.”
“Most families in the study were able to follow these dietary guidelines for the four-week study,” Dr. Macknin said, “but we found that they had difficulty purchasing the food necessary for a balanced plant-based diet. So we know that plant-based diets are effective, but if they are to be widely used, we need to make access to plant-based, no-added-fat foods easier and more affordable.”
Michael Macknin, Tammie Kong, Adam Weier, Sarah Worley, Anne S. Tang, Naim Alkhouri, Mladen Golubic. Plant-Based, No-Added-Fat or American Heart Association Diets: Impact on Cardiovascular Risk in Obese Children with Hypercholesterolemia and Their Parents. The Journal of Pediatrics, 2015; DOI: 10.1016/j.jpeds.2014.12.058