BACKGROUND AND AIMS: The mechanism by which vegetarian diets are associated with less inflammation is not clear. We investigated the role of BMI as a mediator in the relationship between vegetarian diet and concentrations of C-reactive protein (CRP), and the cytokines IL-6, IL-10 and TNF-α.
METHODS AND RESULTS: We used data from participants of the Adventist Health Study 2 (AHS-2) Calibration (n = 893) and Biological Manifestations of Religion (n = 478) sub-studies. Vegetarian diet variations were determined based on reported intake of animal products assessed by FFQ. Combining all participants, the proportion of non-vegetarians (NVs), partial vegetarians (PVs), lacto-ovo vegetarians (LOVs), and strict vegetarians (SVs) was 44%, 16%, 31%, and 9%, respectively. NV and PV participants were older than other dietary groups, and non-vegetarians had the highest BMI. Mediation analyses supported the mediating effect of BMI in associations of vegetarian diet with CRP (p < 0.001 each for PV, LOV and SV), and with IL-6 (p < 0.05 each for PV, LOV and SV). Mediation by BMI was not evident between vegetarian diet and the biomarkers IL-10 and TNF-α. A direct pathway was significant only in the association between strict vegetarians and CRP (p = 0.017).
CONCLUSION: The lower CRP and IL-6 concentrations among vegetarians may be mediated by BMI.Copyright © 2018 The Italian Society of Diabetology, the Italian Society for the Study of Atherosclerosis, the Italian Society of Human Nutrition, and the Department of Clinical Medicine and Surgery, Federico II University. Published by Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
KEYWORDS: BMI; Biomarkers; CRP; Cytokines; Vegetarian