Children Are Much Shorter And Weaker When Raised On Trendy Vegan Diets, Study Shows
Many view veganism as a healthy way to eat, but a study has found that it could impact the growth of children
The number of children being raised vegan has increased in recent years. In fact, the number has quadrupled in the last four years and there are currently 600,000 children being raised without any kind of meat intake.
The University College London‘s Great Ormond Street Institute of Child Health has now highlighted the risks of putting a child on a vegan diet.
The study, which involved 187 healthy five to ten-year-olds in Poland, was designed to see how children were impacted by different diets. The researchers collected data on growth, body composition, cardiovascular risk, and micronutrient status.
The study, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, found that as a result of cutting out all meat and dairy from their diets, vegan children would need vitamin B12 and vitamin D supplements.
These supplements would reduce the risk of long-term health consequences caused by veganism. The impact of a vegan diet on children includes being an average of three centimetres shorter, having weaker bones and being more prone to osteoporosis in later life.
Discussing the research, lead author Professor Jonathan Wells noted that people are ‘increasingly being drawn to plant-based diets’ and that the researchers are supportive of these efforts as they are ‘recognised to be crucial for preventing climate breakdown’.
However, the professor stated that it was important to research the impact the diet has on health:
Until now research into the health impact of these diets on children has been largely limited to assessments of height and weight and conducted only in vegetarian children.
Our study provides a substantial insight into the health outcomes in children following vegetarian and vegan diets.
Speaking about the impact of a vegan diet on children, co-author, Professor Mary Fewtrell added:
We found that vegan children had lower bone mass even after accounting for their smaller body and bone size. This means they may enter adolescence, a phase when bone-specific nutrient needs are higher, with a bone deficit already established.
If such deficits are caused by a diet that persists into adolescence, this might increase the risk of adverse bone outcomes later in life.
However, it wasn’t all bad for vegan children, and those involved in the study had 25 per cent lower levels of ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol. Co-author Dr Małgorzata Desmond wrote that vegan children also tended to have better cardiovascular health and had lower body fat.
Interestingly, the study also found that vegetarian children were found to have worse cardiovascular health than vegan children. This trend in vegetarian children has been linked to eating more processed and sugary food when compared to vegan children.
The study now hopes to inform parents about how to give children all of their nutritional requirements regardless of their diet.
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