According to a study carried out by Cancer Research UK, people who eat meat and carry on doing so put on more weight over a five year period than people who switch over to vegetarianism.

We all put on weight as we get older, the researchers found. However, vegetarians put on less weight than meat eaters, and vegans put on less weight than vegetarians.

Scientists at Cancer Research UK looked at the diets of 22,000 meat eaters, fish eaters, vegetarians and vegans. They studied people from all age groups (over 5). They compared weight gains in all these categories.

The 22,000 people gained, on average, 2 kilos each over a five year period. However, vegans and vegetarians gained the least, an average of 0.5 kilos.

This study was carried out in Oxford, it was part of EPIC (European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition).

Professor Tim Key, Deputy Director of Cancer Research UK's epidemiology unit, Oxford University, said "Contrary to current popular views that a diet low in carbohydrates and high in protein keeps weight down, we found that the lowest weight gain came in people with high intake of carbohydrate and low intake of protein. The data also showed that people who became more physically active during the five year period gained less weight than people who did very little exercise. This confirms that the best way to prevent obesity is to combine a healthy diet with exercise."

Researchers found that over the five year period, the percentage of overweight people rose from 29.4% to 34.9% in men, and from 19.1% to 24.2% in women. Percentage of men who were obese rose from 4% to 6.9% in men and 5.7% to 8.4% in women.

What do the words VEGAN and VEGETARIAN mean?

In this article, and most of the UK, they mean:

VEGAN - A person whose sole source of nutrition is plant based.
VEGETARIAN - A person whose source of nutrition includes only plant based products, dairy and eggs.

Neither VEGANS nor VEGETARIANS eat meat, chicken, fish or any animal products (except for those mentioned for VEGETARIANS).

The interpretation of these two words can vary according to country.

Written by: Christian Nordqvist
Editor: Medical News Today