ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Folic Acid Might Offer Allergy Relief
Childhood Food Allergies on the Rise
New Spray Could Benefit Cystic Fibrosis Patients
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Birds Don't Miss a Beat
Higher Vitamin D Intake Could Cut Cancer Risk
Eight Spiritual Universal Principles in the Art of Practice
ANIMAL CARE
Animals Respond to Acupuncture's Healing Touch
Safe Toys for Dogs
Separation Anxiety, Canine-Style
BONES & JOINTS
Living Near Major Road May Boost Rheumatoid Arthritis Risk
Are We Exercising Pain Away? Not So Much.
Winter Is Tough on Feet
CANCER
Selenium, Omega-3s May Stave Off Colorectal Cancer
Adding Garlic Might Cut Cancer Risk
Sharing Cancer Info May Be Empowering
CAREGIVING
Timing May Matter in Organ Donation Decisions
Simpler Sleep Apnea Treatment Seems Effective, Affordable
New Guidelines for Treating Heart Failure
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Walk 100 Steps a Minute for 'Moderate' Exercise
Salt Boosts Blood Pressure in High-Risk Patients
Health Tip: Are You Anemic?
COSMETIC
Science May Banish Bad Hair Days
Study Evaluates Laser Therapies for Hair Removal
New Genetic Links to Baldness Discovered
DENTAL, ORAL
Toothbrushing May Stave Off Heart Woes
Acupuncture May Ease Anxiety Over Dental Work
Gum Disease Treatment Doesn't Cut Preterm Birth Risk
DIABETES
Red-Grape Compound May Improve Diabetes
Brown Rice Bests White for Diabetes Prevention
Laughter May Lower Heart Attack Risk in Diabetics
DIET, NUTRITION
Folic Acid Might Offer Allergy Relief
Soluble Fiber, But Not Bran, Soothes Irritable Bowel
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
Topical Drugs May Pollute Waterways
Global Warming Linked to Heightened Kidney Stone Risk
Global Warming May Bring More Respiratory Woes
EYE CARE, VISION
Omega-3 Foods May Lower Eye Disease Risk
FDA Goes After Unapproved Eye Washes, Skin Ointments
Brain Pressure More Likely to Cause Vision Loss in Men
FITNESS
Exercise Cuts Lung Cancer Risk in Ex-Smokers by 45%
Exercise Keeps the Brain Young
Brisk Walk Can Help Leave Common Cold Behind
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
Bowel Prep Harder on Women Than Men
Olive Oil May Protect Against Bowel Disease
HRT Use Raises Risk of Stomach Trouble
GENERAL HEALTH
Spot light on Dani Antman New Lionheart teacher
More Single Women Are Having Babies
Daylight Savings: Not a Bright Time for All
HEAD & NECK
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
The Internet Is Becoming One-Stop Shopping for Health Help
Magnet Therapy May Ease Hard-to-Treat Depression
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
HEARING
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
After a Stroke, Light Exercise Gets Hands, Arms Working Again
Relaxation Tapes or Mozart Lower Blood Pressure
Brown Rice Tied to Better Heart Health in Study
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Swine Flu Loves a Crowd
Bacterial Infections May Succumb to Honey
Swine Flu Now Reported in All 50 States
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Even Young Kids Can Learn CPR
Plastics Chemical Tied to Aggression in Young Girls
Babies Cared For In Others Homes Might Become Heavy Toddlers
MEN'S HEALTH
Drinking Green Tea May Slow Prostate Cancer
Low Iron Levels Cut Cancer Risk in Men With PAD
Varicose Veins May Mask Larger Problem
MENTAL HEALTH
Massage Fosters Healing in Bereaved Relatives
Love Hormone May Ease Discussion of Painful Topics
Positive Brain Changes Seen After Body-Mind Meditation
PAIN
Tai Chi May Help Ease Fibromyalgia
Alleviating Rheumatoid Arthritis
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Calcium Supplements Cut Blood Lead Levels During Pregnancy
Music of Mozart Soothes the Preemie Baby
Exercise As Well As Acupuncture, May Ease Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome
SENIORS
Living Alone Increases Odds of Developing Dementia
Tai Chi and Qigong Offer Many Health Benefits: Review
Boost In Elderly Population Will Be Felt Worldwide
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Better Sleep, Grades Seem to Go Up
Exercising Throat Muscles May Relieve Sleep Apnea
Daylight Savings: Not a Bright Time for All
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Sugary Colas Tied to Gestational Diabetes
Women Who Run May Benefit From Extra Folic Acid
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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