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Young vegetarians and omnivores: Dietary habits and other health-related aspects
Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Food and Nutrition.
2001 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

In the middle of the 1990s many adolescents became vegetarians. There was concern among adults about whether these new young vegetarians got enough energy and nutrients from their dietary intake. The aim of this thesis was to investigate the prevalence of young vegetarians, the food and lifestyle habits, dietary intake and nutritional status of vegetarian and omnivorous adolescents. The prevalence of adolescents eating a vegetarian school lunch in 124 Swedish secondary schools was investigated by interviewing matrons. Information about prevalence of vegetarians, food and lifestyle habits, of 2041 15-year old students from Umeå, Stockholm and Bergen, was obtained by a questionnaire. The dietary intake and nutritional status of thirty 16-20 year-old vegans were compared with thirty age, sex and height matched omnivores.

Five percent of the adolescents (16-20 years) in Sweden were found to eat vegetarian food at school lunch. In Umeå there was a significantly higher prevalence (15.6%) of 15-year-old vegetarians compared with Stockholm (4.8%) and Bergen (3.8%). It was also found that more females than males (15 years old) chose a vegetarian dietary regime. Even though the female vegetarians consumed vegetables significantly more often than the omnivores, the intake (32 times/month) was not as often as might be expected of a vegetarian population. The male vegetarians reported eating vegetables not even once a day (25 times/month). No difference in the consumption frequency of fruits/berries, alcoholic beverages, sweets/chocolates and fast foods was seen between vegetarians and omnivores. However, female vegetarians more often than female omnivores consumed dietary supplements. Furthermore, lifestyle characteristics of vegetarians were similar those of omnivores regarding exercise, use of alcohol and smoking habits.

No significant difference in validity of reported energy expenditure or energy and protein intakes was found between vegans and omnivores. Young vegans (16-20 year-olds) were seen to have a higher calculated intake of vegetables, legumes, and dietary supplements and a lower intake of ice creams, cakes/cookies, and candies/chocolate than omnivores. The dietary intake was below the average requirements of riboflavin for 73% of the vegans, vitamin B12 for all vegans, vitamin D for 43% of the vegans, calcium for 77% of the vegans and selenium for all vegans and 43% of the omnivores. If intake of supplements was included the intake of e.g. calcium and selenium was still lower than the average requirements for 67% and 73% of the vegans respectively. Low iron stores were as prevalent among vegans as among omnivores (20% and 23% with low stores) and three vegans had low vitamin B12 concentrations in blood.

The findings imply that food and lifestyle habits of young vegetarians are different than what previous studies of vegetarians have shown. There is a need for future research of the long-term health effects of being vegetarian.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Umeå: Institutionen för kostvetenskap, Umeå universitet , 2001. , 80 p.
Keyword [en]
Adolescent, Biological markers, Dietary intake, Diet history, Doubly labeled water, Energy expenditure, Food habits, Lifestyle, Nutritional status, Questionnaire, Vegan, Vegetarian
Research subject
Food and Nutrition
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-5ISBN: 91-7191-983-X (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:umu-5DiVA: diva2:143626
Public defence
2002-12-07, 00:00 (English)
Available from: 2001-12-07 Created: 2001-12-07 Last updated: 2011-05-06Bibliographically approved
List of papers
1. Prevalence of vegetarians in Swedish secondary schools
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Prevalence of vegetarians in Swedish secondary schools
1997 (English)In: Scandinavian Journal of Nutrition/Næringsforskning, ISSN 1102-6480, Vol. 41, 117-20 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
National Category
Nutrition and Dietetics
Research subject
Food and Nutrition
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-4494 (URN)
Available from: 2001-12-07 Created: 2001-12-07 Last updated: 2011-10-14Bibliographically approved
2. Food habits of young Swedish and Norwegian vegetarians and omnivores
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Food habits of young Swedish and Norwegian vegetarians and omnivores
2001 (English)In: Public Health Nutrition, ISSN 1368-9800, E-ISSN 1475-2727, Vol. 4, no 5, 1005-1014 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Objective: To determine the prevalence of vegetarianism and compare food habits among vegetarian and omnivorous adolescents in Sweden and Norway.

Design: Cross-sectional study by questionnaire in Sweden and Norway to gather information about food habits.

Setting: The municipalities of Umeå and Stockholm in Sweden, and Bergen in Norway.

Subjects: In total 2041 ninth-grade students (578 from Umeå, 504 from Stockholm and 959 from Bergen), mean age 15.5 years, were included. The response rate was 95% in Umeå, 91% in Stockholm and 83% in Bergen.

Results: There was a significantly higher prevalence of vegetarianism in Umeå (15.6%) than in Stockholm (4.8%) and Bergen (3.8%). Vegetarians generally wanted more information about a healthy diet and vegetarian females ate dietary supplements to prevent deficiencies more often than omnivorous females (P < 0.01). The young male vegetarians more or less excluded animal products from their diet without changing their food frequency intake or modifying their dietary habits in other respects, while the young female vegetarians more often consumed vegetables and dietary supplements (P < 0.05). However, there was no difference between the intake of fruits/berries, alcoholic beverages, ice cream, sweets/chocolates and fast foods by vegetarians compared with omnivores.

Conclusions: There were three to four times more vegetarians in Umeå than in Stockholm and Bergen. The food habits of the young vegetarians differed from those of omnivorous adolescents and also in some respects from previously published comparative studies of vegetarians' and omnivores' food habits. It is uncertain whether the health benefits shown in previous studies on vegetarianism will be experienced by this young generation of vegetarians.

National Category
Nutrition and Dietetics
Research subject
Food and Nutrition
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-13589 (URN)10.1079/PHN2001167 (DOI)
Available from: 2007-05-11 Created: 2007-05-11 Last updated: 2011-10-14Bibliographically approved
3. Lifestyle-related characteristics of adolescent low-meat-consumers and omnivores in Sweden and Norway
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Lifestyle-related characteristics of adolescent low-meat-consumers and omnivores in Sweden and Norway
Show others...
2002 (English)In: Journal of Adolescent Health, ISSN 1054-139X, E-ISSN 1879-1972, Vol. 31, no 2, 190-198 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Methods: A total of 2041 students (578 from Umeå, Sweden; 504 from Stockholm, Sweden; and 959 from Bergen, Norway), with a mean age of 15.5 years, completed a questionnaire. Information was collected about physical characteristics, and health, family situation, social, exercise, alcohol, and tobacco habits. The response rate was 95% in Umeå, 91% in Stockholm, and 83% in Bergen. Statistical analyses included Chi-square and Mann-Whitney U tests.

Results: There was no reported difference between low-meat consumers and omnivores with respect to alcohol use, smoking, weight, or amount of exercise. Female low-meat consumers more frequently used smokeless tobacco, reported having more sick days during the last year, attached less importance to “being healthy,” and had been depressed more often than female omnivores. Male low-meat consumers reported, to a greater extent than male omnivores, having been tired without reason, having often had headaches and having been depressed. Female low-meat consumers had parents with a higher average level of education than did female omnivores and more often spent time with friends after school.

Conclusions: Vegetarianism or low-meat consumption is mainly a female phenomenon among adolescents in this study. The study indicates that the lifestyle of young low-meat consumers differs from the lifestyle found in previous studies of vegetarians with respect to the respondents’ exercise habits, their perception of their own health, and their use of alcohol and tobacco. Contrary to findings from other studies, adherence to a low-meat diet may not correlate with other health promotion practices among adolescents in Sweden and Norway.

Keyword
Adolescents, Attitudes, Behavior, Gender differences, Health, Lifestyle, Vegetarians, Sweden, Norway
National Category
Nutrition and Dietetics
Research subject
Food and Nutrition
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-4496 (URN)10.1016/S1054-139X(02)00344-0 (DOI)
Available from: 2001-12-07 Created: 2001-12-07 Last updated: 2012-10-20
4. Validity of reported energy expenditure and energy and protein intakes of Swedish vegan and omnivore adolescents
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Validity of reported energy expenditure and energy and protein intakes of Swedish vegan and omnivore adolescents
2002 (English)In: American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, ISSN 0002-9165, E-ISSN 1938-3207, Vol. 75, no 2, 268-274 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Background: It is difficult to obtain accurate reports of dietary intake; therefore, reported dietary intakes must be validated. Researchers need low-cost methods of estimating energy expenditure to validate reports of energy intake in groups with different lifestyles and eating habits.

Objective: We sought to validate the reported energy expenditure and energy and protein intakes of Swedish adolescent vegans and omnivores.

Design: We compared 16 vegans (7 females and 9 males; mean age: 17.4 ± 0.8 y) with 16 omnivores matched for sex, age, and height. Energy expenditure as reported in a physical activity interview and energy and protein intakes as reported by diet history were validated by using the doubly labeled water method and by measuring urinary nitrogen excretion.

Results: The validity of reported energy expenditure and energy and protein intakes was not significantly different between vegans and omnivores. The physical activity interview had a bias toward underestimating energy expenditure by 1.4 ± 2.6 MJ/d (95% CI: 2.4, 0.5 MJ/d). The diet-history interview had a bias toward underestimating energy intake by 1.9 ± 2.7 MJ/d (95% CI: 2.9, 1.0 MJ/d) but showed good agreement with the validation method for nitrogen (protein) intake (underestimate of 0.40 ± 1.90 g N/d; 95% CI: 1.10, 0.29 g N/d).

Conclusions: The physical activity and diet-history interviews underestimated energy expenditure and energy intake, respectively. Energy intake and expenditure were underestimated to the same extent, and the degree of underestimation was not significantly different between vegans and omnivores. Valid protein intakes were obtained with the diet-history method for both vegans and omnivores.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Bethesda: American society of clinical nutrition, 2002
Keyword
Vegetarian, vegan, omnivore, adolescent, energy expenditure, energy intake, protein intake, physical activity, dietary assessment, doubly labeled water, biological markers
National Category
Nutrition and Dietetics
Research subject
Food and Nutrition
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-4497 (URN)000173425700012 ()
External cooperation:
Available from: 2001-12-07 Created: 2001-12-07 Last updated: 2016-08-26Bibliographically approved
5.  Dietary intake and nutritional status of young vegans and omnivores in Sweden
Open this publication in new window or tab >> Dietary intake and nutritional status of young vegans and omnivores in Sweden
2002 (English)In: American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, ISSN 0002-9165, E-ISSN 1938-3207, Vol. 76, no 1, 100-106 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
National Category
Nutrition and Dietetics
Research subject
Food and Nutrition
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-4498 (URN)
Available from: 2001-12-07 Created: 2001-12-07 Last updated: 2011-10-14Bibliographically approved

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