ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Traffic, Dust Linked to Asthma in Kids
Herbal Remedy Could Halt Peanut Allergy
Asthmatics Who Quit Smoking May Reverse Lung Damage
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
No Verdict Yet on Grape Seed Extract vs. Breast Cancer
Cranberries May Help Prevent Urinary Tract Infections
U.S. Spends Billions On Alternative Medicine
ANIMAL CARE
Rest Easy. When It Comes to Swine Flu, Your Pet Is Safe
Beware of Dog Bites
Animals Respond to Acupuncture's Healing Touch
BONES & JOINTS
More Faces Being Spared in Motor Vehicle Accidents
Majority of College Students Report Backpack-Related Pain
Vitamin C Protects Some Elderly Men From Bone Loss
CANCER
Method for Treating Cervical Lesions May Pose Pregnancy Risks
Hypnosis Cuts Hot Flashes for Breast Cancer Survivors
Acupuncture May Help Relieve Polycystic Ovary Syndrome
CAREGIVING
Tiniest Babies Carry Biggest Costs
Most Women Struggle With Rising Health Care Costs
Baby's Sleep Position May Not Affect Severity of Head Flattening
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Firefighters Have Narrower-Than-Normal Arteries, Study Finds
Secondhand Smoke Quickly Affects Blood Vessels
Laughter Can Boost Heart Health
COSMETIC
With Psoriasis, the Internet May Offer Hope
What to Do If You Have Unsightly Veins
Gum Chewing May Cut Craving for Snacks
DENTAL, ORAL
Obesity Boosts Gum Disease Risk
Dental Implants Need More Work Than Root Canals
Mom's Vitamin D Levels Affect Baby's Dental Health
DIABETES
Abnormal Heart Rhythm Boosts Death Risk for Diabetics
Strict Blood Sugar Lowering Won't Ease Diabetes Heart Risk
Exercise Protects Black Women From Type 2 Diabetes
DIET, NUTRITION
Trans-Fat Ban In New York City Is Proving successful
Mercury in Fish Linked to High Blood Pressure
School Meals Need to Get Healthier
DISABILITIES
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Rainy Areas in U.S. Show Higher Autism Rates
Green Areas Lower Health Inequities Between Rich, Poor
Smog Standards Need Tightening, Activists Say
EYE CARE, VISION
Sports Eye Injuries Leading Cause of Blindness in Youths
Thyroid Problems Boost Glaucoma Risk
It's a Whole New Outlook for Cataract Patients
FITNESS
Run for Your Life
Study Shows Exercise Shields Against Osteoporosis
Fall Cleanup Is a Prime Time for Accidents
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
Intestinal Bacteria Trigger Immune Response
Olive Oil May Protect Against Bowel Disease
New Guidelines Issued for Management of IBS
GENERAL HEALTH
More Medicinal Uses for Pomegranate
Eating Well And Keeping Active As You Grow Old Will Help You Stay Sharp
You Can Get Great Exercise In The Garden
HEAD & NECK
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
The Internet Is Becoming One-Stop Shopping for Health Help
Using Light Therapy to Silence Harmful Brain Activity
Study Suggests Link Between Cell Phones and Brain Tumors
HEARING
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Vitamin B3 May Help Repair Brain After a Stroke
Obese People Seem to Do Better With Heart Disease
Polyunsaturated Fats Really May Lower Heart Risk
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Surgical Masks Could Prevent Flu, Maybe
Grapefruit Compound Inhibits Hepatitis C Virus
Swine Flu Loves a Crowd
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Safety Should Be Priority for Those Involved in Kids' Sports
3 Home Habits Help Youngsters Stay Slim
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
MEN'S HEALTH
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
Soy Linked to Low Sperm Count
Low Vitamin D Levels May Boost Men's Heart Attack Risk
MENTAL HEALTH
Eight Spiritual Universal Principles in the Art of Practice
Most Depressed Teens Don't Get Treatment
Cinnamon Breaks Up Brain Plaques, May Hold Key to Fighting Alzheimer’s
PAIN
Are We Exercising Pain Away? Not So Much.
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
Tai Chi May Help Ease Fibromyalgia
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
Placebo Acupuncture Tied to Higher IVF Pregnancies
For Baby and Mom Alike, Breast-Feeding May Be Best
SENIORS
Healthy Diet Could Cut Alzheimer's Disease Risk
For a Healthier Retirement, Work a Little
Seniors Who Volunteer May Live Longer
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Meditation May Help Put Primary Insomnia to Bed
Lose Weight, Sleep Apnea May Improve
Sleeping Could Help Women Lose The Baby Fat
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Rheumatoid Arthritis Rising Among U.S. Women
Being Active an Hour a Day Puts Brakes on Weight Gain
Vitamin D Good for Breast Cancer Patients
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The Dark Side of Vegetarianism

By Steven Reinberg
HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, April 1 (HealthDay News) -- Despite its proven health benefits, a vegetarian diet might in fact be masking an underlying eating disorder, new research suggests.

The study, in the April issue of the Journal of the American Dietetic Association, found that twice as many teens and nearly double the number of young adults who had been vegetarians reported having used unhealthy means to control their weight, compared with those who had never been vegetarians. Those means included using diet pills, laxatives and diuretics and inducing vomiting to control weight.

There's a dark side to vegetarianism, said Dr. David L. Katz, director of the Prevention Research Center at Yale University School of Medicine. He had no role in the research.

"Adolescent vegetarians [in the study] were more prone to disordered eating and outright eating disorders," Katz said. "This is not due to vegetarianism but the other way around: Adolescents struggling to control their diets and weight might opt for vegetarianism among other, less-healthful efforts."

Vegetarianism, or a mostly plant-based diet, can be recommended to all adolescents, Katz said. "But when adolescents opt for vegetarianism on their own, it is important to find out why because it may signal a cry for help, rather than the pursuit of health," he said.

Katz said he thinks a balanced vegetarian diet is among the most healthful of dietary patterns, and the study suggests some of the benefits.

"Adolescents practicing vegetarianism were less likely to be overweight than their omnivorous counterparts and, were the measures available, would likely have had better blood pressure and cholesterol, too," he said. "Eating mostly plants -- and even only plants -- is good for us, and certainly far better for health than the typical American diet."

The study's lead researcher, Ramona Robinson-O'Brien, an assistant professor in the Nutrition Department at the College of Saint Benedict and Saint John's University in St. Joseph, Minn., agreed.

"The majority of adolescents and young adults today would benefit from improvements in dietary intake," she said. The study found, for instance, that the vegetarians among the participants generally were less likely to be overweight or obese.

"However, current vegetarians may be at increased risk for binge eating, while former vegetarians may be at increased risk for extreme unhealthful weight-control behaviors," she said. "Clinicians and nutrition professionals providing guidance to young vegetarians might consider the potential benefits associated with a healthful vegetarian diet, [but should] recognize the possibility of increased risk of disordered eating behaviors."

The researchers collected data on 2,516 teens and young adults who participated in a study called Project EAT-II: Eating Among Teens. They classified participants as current, former or never vegetarians and divided them into two age groups: teens (15 to 18) and young adults (19-23).

Each participant was questioned about binge eating, whether they felt a loss of control of their eating habits and whether they used any extreme weight-control behaviors.

About 21 percent of teens who had been vegetarians said they used unhealthy weight-control behaviors, compared with 10 percent of teens who had never been vegetarians. Among young adults, more former vegetarians (27 percent) had used such measures than current vegetarians (16 percent) or those who'd never been vegetarians (15 percent), the study found.

In addition, among teenagers, binge eating and loss of control over eating habits was reported by 21 percent of current and 16 percent of former vegetarians but only 4 percent of those who'd never followed a vegetarian diet. For young adults, more vegetarians (18 percent) said they engaged in binge eating with loss of control than did former vegetarians (9 percent) and those who were never vegetarians (5 percent), the study found.

Young adult vegetarians were less likely to be overweight or obese than were those who'd never been vegetarians. Among teens, the study found no statistically significant differences in weight.

"When guiding adolescent and young adult vegetarians in proper nutrition and meal planning, it is important to recognize the potential health benefits and risks associated with a vegetarian diet," Robinson-O'Brien said. "Furthermore, it may be beneficial to investigate an individual's motives for choosing a vegetarian diet and ask about their current and former vegetarian status when assessing risk for disordered eating behaviors."

More information

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has more on a healthful diet.



SOURCES: Ramona Robinson-O'Brien, Ph.D., R.D., assistant professor, Nutrition Department, College of Saint Benedict and Saint John's University, St. Joseph, Minn.; David L. Katz, M.D., M.P.H., director, Prevention Research Center, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, Conn.; April 2009 Journal of the American Dietetic Association

Last Updated: April 01, 2009

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