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15-08-2011 | Cardiometabolic | Article

Vegetables may help curb obesity


Free abstract

MedWire News: Replacing animal protein in the diet with vegetable protein may help prevent and control overweight and obesity, study findings suggest.

Researchers found that animal protein intake was positively related and vegetable protein intake inversely related to overweight (body mass index [BMI] ≥25 kg/m2) and obesity (BMI ≥30 kg/m2) in a cohort of apparently healthy, middle-aged men.

"Our results indicate that protein sources may be important with respect to weight, independent of energy, carbohydrate, alcohol, and fat intake," say Ka He (University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, USA) and co-authors.

In the Journal of the American Dietetic Association, the team explains that current literature on the association of protein intake with body weight is inconsistent, and little is known about the relation of long-term protein intake with obesity.

To address this, the team analyzed data from 1730 male participants of the Chicago Western Electric Study (CWES) who were aged between 40 and 55 years at baseline (1957-1958). At the beginning of CWES, all of the men provided dietary information at two separate examinations, and their BMI was measured annually.

After 7 years of follow-up, the researchers found that animal protein intake was positively associated and vegetable intake negatively associated with both overweight and obesity, after controlling for age, energy, carbohydrate and saturated fat intake, education, cigarette smoking, alcohol intake, and history of chronic diseases or diabetes.

More specifically, individuals in the highest quartile of animal protein intake (13.8% kcal) were 2.1 times more likely to be overweight and 4.6 times more likely to be obese than those in the lowest quartile (9.3% kcal).

The association between vegetable protein intake and overweight was not statistically significant, note He et al. But individuals in the highest quartile of vegetable protein intake (4.1% kcal) were a significant 42% less likely to be obese than those in the lowest quartile (2.9% kcal).

The researchers suggest, therefore, that "replacement of animal protein with vegetable protein in the diet may offer promise in future intervention aimed at prevention/control of overweight and obesity."

MedWire ( is an independent clinical news service provided by Springer Healthcare Limited. © Springer Healthcare Ltd; 2011

By Nikki Withers