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Study reveals vegetarians, regardless of gender, face increased risk of hip fracture

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Washington DC | August 5, 2023 1:46:19 PM IST
According to the findings of a large-scale study, both men and women who follow a vegetarian diet have a 50% higher risk of hip fracture than persons who routinely eat meat.

Women who are vegetarian have an increasedriskofhip fracture, but the reasons for this are unknown, and studies on the impact of a vegetarian diet on men have been small and inconclusive.

Researchers at the University of Leeds examined data from 413,914 people - both men and women - and discovered that vegetarian men are at a higherriskofhip fracturethan meat-eating men.

It also identifies some of the factors that may put vegetarians, both men and women, atrisk.

Individuals in the study, who were recruited between 2006 and 2010, provided information on their diet and were classified as either regularmeat eaterswho ate meat five or more times a week; an occasional meat eater who ate meat fewer than five times a week; a pescatarian who ate fish but not meat; or a vegetarian who could consume dairy foods but not fish or meat.

The data on the individuals was linked to their hospital records and cases ofhip fracturewere recorded in the follow-up period to 2021.

There were 3503 cases ofhip fractureamong the 413,914 participants, for an overall incidence rate of less than 1 per cent.

Although the overallriskofhip fracturewas low, there was a significant difference inriskbetween vegetarians and regularmeat eaters.

The researchers discovered that vegetarians had a 50 per cent higherriskthan regularmeat eaters, regardless of gender. Theriskwas the same for occasional and regularmeat eaters.

Pescatarians were slightly more atriskthan regularmeat eaters, but the difference was insignificant.

The researchers calculated how these relative differences might translate to real-world situations.

They predicted that 6.5 regularmeat eatersand 6.5 occasionalmeat eaterswould experience ahip fractureon average, while 7 pescatarians and 9.5 vegetarians would.

James Webster, a doctoral researcher in theSchool of Food Science and Nutritionwho led the study, said: Hip fractures are a growing problem in an ageing society, and can trigger debilitating health conditions and a loss of quality of life.

This study shows that whilst vegetarians face a greaterriskofhip fracturethan meat-eaters, this translates to just 3 morehip fractures per 1000 people over 10 years. The health benefits of a vegetarian diet, including a lowerriskof cancer and cardiovascular disease, may still outweigh any increases inhip fracturerisk.

Our analysis suggests that low BMI may be a key factor in why theirriskis higher.

Additionally, vegetarians were about 17 per cent less likely to meet protein recommendations than meat-eaters. So, important messages from our study are that vegetarians need to ensure they are getting a balanced diet with enough protein and maintain a healthy BMI. This will help vegetarians to maintain healthy bones and muscles.

Professor Janet Cade, who leads theNutritional Epidemiology Groupat the University of Leeds and supervised the research, said: Hip fracture is a majorhealth issueand diet may have a part to play in affectingrisk.

This research, using the large UK Biobank, confirms our previous work, showing that a vegetarian diet increases theriskofhip fracturecompared to regularmeat eaters, in both men and women. Whilstvegetarian dietshave health benefits, understandingdiet qualityand the balance of key nutrients may help to reduceriskand improve future bone health. (ANI)

 
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