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More hip fractures in vegetarian women

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Women with a vegetarian diet have a 33% higher risk of hip fracture than those who regularly eat meat, according to a British study published in August 2022 in the journal BMC Medicine.

James Webster of theUniversity of Leeds and her colleagues analyzed data on more than 26,318 women aged 35 to 69 at the time of recruitment.

They looked at the risk of hip fracture in women who ate meat occasionally, pescetarians (eating fish but no meat) and vegetarians compared to those who ate meat regularly.

During a follow-up of almost 20 years, 822 cases of hip fracture were observed, that is to say in 3% of the participants. After adjusting the analyzes for factors such as smoking and age, the vegetarian group was the only one with a high risk of hip fracture.

healthy or unhealthy vegetarian food

The study, the researchers note, is not intended to encourage people to give up vegetarian diets.

Vegetarian diets can vary greatly from person to person and can be healthy or unhealthy, as can diets that include animal products.» (Eating less meat does not necessarily improve diet)

But, worryingly, vegetarian diets often have lower intakes of nutrients linked to bone and muscle health. These types of nutrients are generally more abundant in meat and other animal products than in plants, such as protein, calcium and other micronutrients.» (Vegetarian diet: 9 nutrients to watch out for to avoid deficiencies)

A low intake of these nutrients can lead to a decrease in bone mineral density and muscle mass, which can make you more vulnerable to the risk of hip fracture. It is therefore particularly important to continue research to better understand the factors behind the increased risk in vegetarians, whether it be particular nutrient deficiencies or weight management, so that we can help people to make healthy choices.»

Plant-based diets are gaining popularity

Vegetarian diets have grown in popularity in recent years, with a 2021 YouGov survey estimating the size of the UK vegetarian population at around 5-7%. The vegetarian diet is often seen as a healthier food option, with previous data showing it may reduce the risk of several chronic diseases, including diabetes, heart disease and cancer, compared to omnivorous diets.

There is also a global call to reduce the consumption of animal products in an effort to combat climate change.

The effect of a low BMI

The average body mass index (BMI) of vegetarians was slightly lower than that of regular meat eaters. Previous research has shown a link between a low BMI and a higher risk of hip fracture.

A low BMI can indicate that people are underweight, which can translate to poorer bone and muscle health and a higher risk of hip fracture. (Underweight, healthy weight, overweight or obese? Quick CALCULATION of your BMI)

Further research is needed to determine whether a low BMI is the cause of the higher risk seen in vegetarians.

For more information, see the links below.

Psychomedia with sources: University of Leeds, BMC Medicine.
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