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Vegetarian diets and cardiovascular risk factors in black members of the Adventist Health Study-2

  • Gary Fraser (a1), Sozina Katuli (a1), Ramtin Anousheh (a2), Synnove Knutsen (a1), Patti Herring (a3) and Jing Fan (a4)
  • DOI:
  • Published online: 17 March 2014

To compare cardiovascular risk factors between vegetarians and non-vegetarians in black individuals living in the USA.


A cross-sectional analysis of a sub-set of 592 black women and men enrolled in the Adventist Health Study-2 (AHS-2) cohort of Seventh-day Adventists.


Members of the AHS-2 cohort, who lived in all states of the USA and provinces of Canada.


Black/African-American members of two sub-studies of AHS-2 where blood and physiological measurements were obtained.


Of these women and men, 25 % were either vegan or lacto-ovo-vegetarians (labelled ‘vegetarian/vegans’), 13 % were pesco-vegetarian and 62 % were non-vegetarian. Compared with non-vegetarians, the vegetarian/vegans had odds ratios for hypertension, diabetes, high blood total cholesterol and high blood LDL-cholesterol of 0·56 (95 % CI 0·36, 0·87), 0·48 (95 % CI 0·24, 0·98), 0·42 (95 % CI 0·27, 0·65) and 0·54 (95 % CI 0·33, 0·89), respectively, when adjusted for age, gender, education, physical activity and sub-study. Corresponding odds ratios for obesity in vegetarian/vegans and pesco-vegetarians, compared with non-vegetarians, were 0·43 (95 % CI 0·28, 0·67) and 0·47 (95 % CI 0·27, 0·81), respectively; and for abdominal obesity 0·54 (95 % CI 0·36, 0·82) and 0·50 (95 % CI 0·29, 0·84), respectively. Results for pesco-vegetarians did not differ significantly from those of non-vegetarians for other variables. Further adjustment for BMI suggested that BMI acts as an intermediary variable between diet and both hypertension and diabetes.


As with non-blacks, these results suggest that there are sizeable advantages to a vegetarian diet in black individuals also, although a cross-sectional analysis cannot conclusively establish cause.

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