Plant-based diets for children as a means of improving adult cardiometabolic health.


Desmond MA, Sobiecki J, Fewtrell M, Wells JCK

Year Published: 



Nutr Rev.


Study Design: 


Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the largest contributor to global mortality, and this trend is expected to continue. Although mortality rates have been falling, adverse developments in obesity and diabetes threaten to reverse this. It has been estimated that the only viable strategy to reduce the epidemic is to focus on population-wide risk factor reduction. Primordial prevention, a strategy aimed at avoiding the development of risk factors before the disease onset, has been shown to reduce the CVD epidemic substantially. Plant-based diets appear beneficial for prevention of cardiometabolic diseases, with adult vegetarians and vegans having lower CVD risk than omnivores. Atherosclerosis starts in childhood and progresses in relation to classical CVD risk factors, which, along with dietary habits, track to adulthood. Based on this evidence, it is proposed that plant-based diets in childhood could promote cardiometabolic health in adults and thereby reduce CVD and promote longevity and health. However, the need for additional research to establish the safety of predominantly or exclusively plant-based diets in children is noted.