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Washington D.C. [USA], May 19:  You may want to add a lot of fruits and vegetables to your diet as a recent study has found that doing so can cut obesity risk.

Pro-vegetarian diets (with a higher consumption of plant-based foods compared to animal-based foods) could provide substantial protection against obesity, according to the University of Navarra research presented at this year’s European Congress on Obesity (ECO) in Porto, Portugal (17-20 May).

This observational study found that people who ate a high pro-vegetarian diet, rich in food coming from plant sources like vegetables, fruit, and grains, cut their risk of developing obesity by almost half compared to those who were least pro-vegetarian, with a dietary pattern rich in animal food like meat, and animal fats.

Current evidence suggests that such a pro-vegetarian diet has a protective role in cardiovascular disease and diabetes, but little is known about its role on the risk of developing obesity in healthy populations.

The study was carried by student Julen Sanz examined the association between varying degrees of pro-vegetarian (plant-based) diet and the incidence of obesity in over 16,000 healthy, non-obese adults from the SUN Cohort (Seguimiento Universidad de Navarra), a study tracking the health of Spanish graduates since 1999.

The authors acknowledge that their findings show observational differences rather than evidence of cause and effect. They conclude: “Our study suggests that plant-based diets are associated with substantially lower risk of developing obesity. This supports current recommendations to shift to diets rich in plant foods, with lower intake of animal foods.”