Online Program

Vegetarians have a lower risk of obesity than non-vegetarians in high and low obesity environments

Wednesday, November 6, 2013 : 8:55 a.m. - 9:15 a.m.

Nico Rizzo, PhD, med Dr, M.Sc., School of Public Health, Loma Linda University, Loma Linda, CA
Samuel Soret, PhD, MPH, School of Public Health, Center for Community Resilience, Loma Linda University, Loma Linda, CA
Background: Obesity has become an epidemic in the U.S. and other countries with detrimental effects to the quality of life and health perspectives. Lifestyle factors such as dietary patterns may contribute in the prevention of obesity. Objective: The purpose of the study was to investigate associations between dietary patterns based on the inclusion or absence of meat and obesity in high and low obesity environments. Methods: Cross-sectional study of 55676 U.S. subjects (age range 30 to 110 years) from the Adventist Health Study-2 with a complete set of data. Dietary pattern was classified as vegetarian and non-vegetarian based on meat intake derived from a validated food frequency questionnaire. County-level estimates of obesity provided by the CDC were stratified in quintile levels and cohort based individual level BMI values were calculated. Logistic regression analysis was employed to assess the association between dietary pattern and obesity stratified by quintiles of county-level obesity prevalence. Adjustments were made for cohort based information on race, sex, age, physical activity, caloric intake and sedentary behavior. Results: After multiple adjustments the odds ratios of being obese were substantially lower for vegetarians than non-vegetarians in all quintiles of county level obesity with odds ratios (OR) between 0.460 and 0.522. The odds ratios for vegetarians were lowest in counties with the two highest obesity quintiles (4th quintile OR=0.460, CI=0.406-0.521 and 5th quintile OR=0.469, CI=0.400-0.549). Conclusions: A vegetarian diet is associated with a lower risk of being obese in high and low obesity environments and may show the greatest benefit in higher obesity environments.

Learning Areas:

Chronic disease management and prevention
Environmental health sciences
Other professions or practice related to public health
Public health or related research
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
Describe the relationship between dietary patterns characterized by meat content and the risk of obesity in different geospatial environments. Discuss the importance of individual lifestyle factors and the environment on obesity.

Keyword(s): Obesity, Epidemiology

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have conducted and published research on physical activity and dietary pattern and their association with chronic diseases and obesity in large publicly funded cohort studies in the U.S. and Europe. My research interests include the etiology of cardio-metabolic disease and epigenetics.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.