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Association between overweight and consumption of ultra-processed food and sugar-sweetened beverages among vegetarians

Associação entre o excesso de peso e o consumo de alimentos ultraprocessados e bebidas açucaradas por diferentes grupos vegetarianos

ABSTRACT

Objective:

To assess the consumption of ultra-processed food and sugar-sweetened beverages and to identify the association of this consumption with overweight among vegetarians.

Methods:

A cross-sectional study with a convenience sampling method was conducted. Data were collected using an online questionnaire from 8/24/2015 to 10/8/2015. Subjects were male and female vegetarians aged >16 years. Using a food frequency questionnaire, we assessed the weekly consumption of ultra-processed food and sugar-sweetened beverages and described the frequency of daily consumption overall and according to type of vegetarianism. The association between overweight and excessive daily intake of ultra-processed food was analyzed by multiple logistic regression (OR [95CI%]).

Results:

Information was retrieved from 503 individuals (29.8±8.5 years old); 83.7% were women. The most frequent types of vegetarianism in our sample were ovo-lacto (45.5%) and vegan (41.7%), and the median time of vegetarianism was 5.3 years. The consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages (≥2x/day) and ultra-processed food (≥3x/day) was 21.0% and 16.0%, respectively, and regarding the different vegetarianism types, vegans showed the lowest frequency of excessive daily sugar-sweetened beverages and ultra-processed food consumption. In the multivariable analysis, consumption of ultra-processed food ≥3x/day (2.33 [1.36-4.03]), male sex (1.73 [1.01-2.96]), age ≥35 years (2.03 [1.23-3.36]) and not preparing one’s food (1.67 [0.95-2.94]) were independently associated with overweight.

Conclusion:

Although vegetarianism is frequently associated with a healthier diet and, consequently, prevention of poor health outcomes, this study found that the excessive consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages and ultra-processed food was associated with overweight.

Keywords:
Diet, vegetarian; Food consumption; Obesity; Overweight.

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