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Plant-Based Diet Good for Heart Health in Obese Kids

Article-Plant-Based Diet Good for Heart Health in Obese Kids

<p>Researchers out of Denver compared two diets&#8217;&#0151;a plant-based, no&#8211;added-fat diet and the American Heart Association&#8217;s (AHA) diet&#0151;impact on cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk reduction in obese children.</p>

Obesity impacts many areas of health, one being the heart. A new study published in The Journal of Pediatrics took a deeper look at obese children, diet and heart disease risk. Researchers out of Denver compared two diets’—a plant-based, no–added-fat diet and the American Heart Association’s (AHA) diet—impact on cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk reduction in obese children (Feb. 11, 2015).

The randomized study was conducted over a four-week period (April 20, 2013 to May 18, 2013) in a large Midwestern hospital system's predominantly middle class outpatient pediatric practices. A total of 30 obese children, ages 9 to 18, with high cholesterol were randomized to plant-based diet or AHA’s diet with weekly two-hour classes of nutrition education. One parent of each kid was also assigned to a diet plan.

Children on the plant-based had nine and children on AHA had four statistically significant beneficial changes from baseline: BMI, systolic blood pressure, total cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, high-sensitivity C-reactive protein (CRP) and insulin were impacted from the plant-based diet; myeloperoxidase, mid-arm circumference and weight were impacted by both diets; and waist circumference was impacted by the AHA diet. Adults on the plant-based and AHA diets had seven and two, respectively, statistically significant beneficial changes.

The significant change favoring AHA was a 1-percent difference in children's waist circumference. Difficulty shopping for food for the plant-based diet was the only statistically significant acceptability barrier.

Based on these results, the researchers said a plant-based diet and the AHA diet in both children and adults demonstrated potentially beneficial changes from baseline in risk factors for CVD.

The frozen aisle can help make these types of diets more convenient. Lots of vegetarian-based dishes and “imitation foods," such as vegetarian burgers and nuggets, are chock full of good-for-you ingredients like kale, spinach and more. The struggle with meat alternatives has been protein, but as you’ll see in our Survival Guide: Protein, there are many vegetarian-based proteins that do the trick. The digital issue will be live next Friday; click here to check it out.

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