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The purpose of the study: Beyond Meatless, the Health Effects of Vegan
Diets is to assess the effects of vegan and vegetarian diets on health and
disease outcomes of Adventists as well as discuss the limitations of a vegan diet.
It was hypothesized that due to previous studies of Adventists, a well-balanced
vegan diet is nutritionally adequate and is related to a lower risk of chronic diseases
(Le & Sabaté, 2014). The researchers summarized evidence from three
prospective cohorts of Adventists across North America: Adventist Mortality
Study, Adventist Health Study, and Adventist Health Study-2. For each cohort, non-vegetarian
diets were compared to vegetarian diets, specifically vegan and
lacto-ovo-vegetarian, on cardiometabolic factors, risk of cancer, and mortality
rate (Le & Sabaté, 2014).

The results of the study revealed that a
vegetarian diet, including vegan, protects against cardiovascular diseases,
cardiometabolic risk factors, some cancers, and total mortality (Le &
Sabaté, 2014). Vegan diets specifically offered an additional protection for
obesity, hypertension, and type II diabetes. Additionally, it was found that
vegetarians and vegans had a 75% lower rate of developing hypertension, 49%
lower rate for developing type II diabetes, and an overall 8% risk reduction in
experiencing cancer. Lastly, across all three cohorts people with a vegetarian
or vegan diet saw a 10-20% decrease in all-cause mortality rates. Overall, the
study showed that males experienced greater health benefits compared to females
(Le & Sabaté, 2014).

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These findings are important because the
study focuses primarily on vegetarian and vegan Adventists; where alcohol
consumption and cigarette use is relatively low. Thus, these benefits may be
seen simply because of their reduced alcohol and nicotine consumption, rather
than associated with the absence of meat and other animal products. Since this
study is limited to Adventist cohorts, the results are not completely
generalizable to all vegetarians and vegans whom may have a different
lifestyle. Therefore, more studies on the effects of vegetarian and vegan diets
on obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular outcomes are needed in order to consider
implementation or adoption.

The second article, Plant-based, no-added-fat or American Heart Association diets: impact
on cardiovascular risk in obese children aims to identify if a vegan diet
can lower the risk of cardiovascular disease among obese children (Macknin,
Kong, Weier, Worley, Tang, Alkhouri, Golubic, 2015). The health benefits of a
plant-based vegan diet among adults is known, suggesting that a low-fat, vegan
diet contributes to weight loss, a lower body mass index (BMI), and possible
prevention of cardiovascular disease. However, these benefits have not yet been
tested among children. Thus, the researchers conducted a four-week randomized study
comparing the effects of a plant-based vegan diet to the American Heart
Association diet in children between the ages of 9-18 with a BMI >95%. It
was hypothesized that both groups, vegan diet and American Heart Association
diet, would show improvements in health, but improvements would be greater for
those following a vegan diet (Macknin et al, 2015).

The study consisted of a total of 30
middle class children from the Midwest. Like the vegan diet, the American Heart
Association diet emphasizes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and low sodium;
however, this diet allowed the consumption of low-fat dairy, lean meat, and
some plant oils (Macknin et al, 2015). During week 1 blood pressure, blood
samples and height, weight, and waist measurements were taken to be compared at
the end of the study. Each child was randomly assigned to follow either a vegan
diet or an American Heart Association diet for a total of 4 weeks. Both groups
recorded what they ate for the duration of the study. Additionally, both groups
attended weekly nutrition and cooking classes specific to their diet; where
they were taught how to read food labels, stay on track, and prepare meals. Lastly,
at the end of week 4, blood samples and measurements of height, weight, waist,
and blood pressure were taken for each child in order to test for the risk of
cardiovascular disease and BMI reduction (Macknin et al, 2015).

It was found that among both groups total
caloric intake decreased significantly. Children following the vegan diet
consumed less protein, cholesterol, saturated fat, vitamin B12, and
vitamin D, but consumed more fiber and carbs compared to the children following
the American Heart Association diet. It was also found that children who ate a
vegan diet lost an average of 6.7 pounds over the course of the study; which
was 197% more than the other group. While the improvements were not
significant, it was noted that children in the vegan diet group reduced their
systolic blood pressure, total, and LDL cholesterol levels, whereas the other
group did not see any changes (Macknin et al, 2015). Overall, the study
concluded that both diets reduced the risk of heart disease in children;
however, the vegan diet greatly improved BMI and cholesterol levels. The
results of this study are important because it shows that a vegan diet is safe
for children as long as appropriate supplements are provided for vitamins and
minerals that may be low. Obesity across America is continuously rising and in
order to slow down the epidemic it’s key to prevent and reduce it at the
childhood level- the window of vulnerability, thus it’s beneficial to know that
a vegan, plant-based diet is in fact safe and effective for children to

The last article, A multicenter randomized trial of a plant-based nutrition program to
reduce weight and cardiovascular risk in the corporate setting focuses on
determining the effects of a low-fat plant-based diet program on individuals in
a corporate setting, specifically GEICO- a major United States insurance
company with approximately 27,000 employees (Mishra, Xu, Agarwal, Gonzales,
Levin, Barnard, 2013). About 67% of Americans are overweight, half of whom are
obese. America alone spends $2 trillion on medical care each year, and 75% of
that is spent on treating and preventing health conditions related to obesity;
such as, type II diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular disease, and some
cancers (Mishra et al, 2013).

workplace is where many people are often sedentary for long periods of time and
make daily dietary choices. The researchers hypothesized that a plant-based vegan
diet would decrease the prevalence of obesity, type II diabetes, heart disease,
and hypertension among employees based on other previous studies that have been
done (Mishra et al, 2013). A total of 291 participants were chosen from 10
GEICO corporate offices. Each employee was randomly assigned to follow either a
low-fat vegan diet or a control diet for a total of 18 weeks. The vegan diet emphasized
whole grains, legumes, vegetables, and fruits. Participants that followed the
vegan diet attended weekly classes taught by a dietitian that focused on nutrition
education such as the effects of diet on weight loss, heart disease, cancer,
and diabetes. They also took a daily vitamin B12 supplement because people
following a vegan diet have shown to be deficient in B12. Participants
in the control group did not make any changes to their diet and did not attend weekly
nutrition classes (Mishra et al, 2013).

researchers found that the vegan group consumed more fiber than the control group
but less total fat, saturated fat, and cholesterol. Individuals in the vegan
group lost 9.5 pounds compared to individuals in the control group who only lost
0.2 pounds throughout the course of the study. Additionally, for the vegan
group LDL and total cholesterol levels decreased whereas in the control group no
change was seen (Mishra et al, 2013). In conclusion, nutrition intervention
programs need to be implemented into work settings because obesity, diabetes,
and cardiovascular disease are on the rise throughout the United States. Preventing
these conditions in the workplace is of interest because they not only raise
medical concerns for individual employees but also economic ones for the entire
company. Overall, the findings in this study are important because they show
the effectiveness of a low-fat vegan diet in a corporate setting and how these
results can be extended to a larger sample size in other corporate offices
across the United States. 

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