The Use of Plant-Based Diets for Obesity Treatment
In observational studies, individuals following vegetarian, particularly vegan, diets have healthier body weights, on average, compared with those following omnivorous diets. In clinical trials, vegetarian and vegan diets lead to significant weight loss, even in the absence of physical exercise or limits on energy intake. The mechanisms by which plant-based diets cause weight loss appear to be (1) reduced dietary energy density, as a result of their high fiber and low fat content, and (2) increased postprandial energy expenditure. The degree of weight loss associated with plant-based diets in clinical trials is as great as that with other popular diet patterns, and favorable changes in overall nutrition, plasma lipid concentrations, and blood pressure are also observed. Acceptability with, and adherence to vegan diets has been studied in varied populations in clinical trials and is similar to that of other therapeutic diets.