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A perspective on vegetarian dietary patterns and risk of metabolic syndrome

  • Joan Sabaté (a1) (a2) and Michelle Wien (a3)

The vegetarian dietary pattern is traditionally a plant-based diet that includes fruits, vegetables, cereals, legumes, nuts, vegetable oils, soya, and possibly dairy products and/or eggs. Vegetarians and other populations who follow a plant-based dietary pattern enjoy longevity. Specifically, vegetarian dietary patterns have been associated with a lower risk for developing IHD, type 2 diabetes, hypertension, specific cancers, lower all-cause mortality and reduction in cause-specific mortality. The prevalence of the metabolic syndrome (MetS) in the USA is approximately 20 % and is currently increasing in developing countries in line with the obesity epidemic. The health care costs associated with the MetS are on a magnitude of 1·6 overall compared with healthy individuals, which makes it an important public health problem. Current evidence from several cross-sectional and case–control studies shows an association between consumption of a vegetarian dietary pattern and a reduced prevalence or risk of developing the MetS. There is a need for further research to be conducted, particularly prospective cohort studies to evaluate the effect of vegetarian dietary patterns on reducing the incidence of the MetS and, clinical trials should be designed to explore vegetarian dietary patterns for the reversal of the MetS in high-risk populations. This research could contribute to reduce the societal and economic burdens associated with the disorder.

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Corresponding author
*Corresponding author: Dr J. Sabate, fax 909 558 4095, email
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