Public health nutrition

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

PMID 24636393


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.