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TACKLE CHILD OBESITY WITH PLANTS, SAYS THE VEGAN SOCIETY


 

Healthy weight as a vegan is not exclusive to adults. Plant-based diets can help children too, says The Vegan Society. The experts at the BDA - the Association of UK Dietitians - agree that well-planned vegan diets can support healthy living throughout childhood, from weaning to teenage years. This is timely advice since it was confirmed that teen obesity rates in the UK are still rising(1).

Jasmijn de Boo, The Vegan Society CEO, said: "A well-planned vegan diet is an excellent start to life for children. What better way to tackle the obesity crisis in the UK than by setting healthy eating habits for our children at an early age? With the planet our children will inherit in peril due to the greenhouse gas emissions from farming animals, plant-based diets for children are more crucial than ever. "

Vegans on average have a healthier weight than health-minded meat-eaters. According to two large studies in the UK and US(2), vegan obesity rates are under 2% compared to over 5% in health-conscious meat-eaters. Obesity significantly increases the risk of serious health conditions such as heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

Vegans also have the lowest body mass index (BMI) of any group, ranging between 22 and 23.5. This compares to BMI of 23.5 to 29 for health-conscious meat-eaters(3). Meat and dairy and other animal products tend to be more energy-dense than fruit, vegetables, grains and legumes. These staples of a plant-based diet are rich in nutrients UK children currently lack, such as vitamin C, good Omega 6 fats and fibre. There is no dietary fibre in animal products.
 
The UK Government this week has also drawn attention again to the major greenhouse gas emissions due to farming cattle, sheep and other animals(4). The planet is currently on track for dangerous global temperature rises, with the risks of extreme floods and droughts, harvest failures and habitat loss which accompany it.  

Vegan children tend to form excellent eating habits, and make better food choices through to adulthood.  We all teach the children in our care not to harm animals unnecessarily, so it makes sense to put this compassion into practice at the dinner table.

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