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NEWS RELEASE May 5, 2009

Long-Term Study and Scientific Review Show Vegan Diets Treat and Prevent Diabetes

Plant-Based Eating Plan Proves Highly Effective in New Studies in American Journal of Clinical Nutrition and Nutrition Reviews

WASHINGTON—At a time when diabetes drugs such as Avandia are linked to dangerous side effects, a pair of new studies in two major nutrition journals provide powerful evidence that a low-fat vegan diet is a highly effective way to treat and prevent type 2 diabetes.

In a 74-week clinical trial in May’s American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, study participants on a low-fat vegan diet showed dramatic improvement in four disease markers: blood sugar control, cholesterol reduction, weight control, and kidney function. The randomized, controlled trial is a milestone in diabetes research because previous studies had collected data for six months or less.

The second paper, a scientific review of observational and interventional studies appearing in May’s Nutrition Reviews, shows that vegan and vegetarian diets are consistently associated with lower rates of diabetes, heart disease, and overweight. Both studies are authored by nutrition researcher Neal Barnard, M.D., David J.A. Jenkins, M.D., Ph.D., D.S.c., and other doctors and dietitians with the Washington Center for Clinical Research, the George Washington University, and the University of Toronto.

“A low-fat vegan diet has proved its staying power as one of the most effective long-term treatments for type 2 diabetes,” says nutrition researcher Dr. Barnard, president of the Washington Center for Clinical Research. “Study participants on the vegan diet experienced dramatic improvements during the first phase. A year later, blood sugar, cholesterol, and body weight were still at healthier levels. The vegan diet works, and people can stick with it over the long run.” 

The vegan diet represents a major departure from standard diabetes diets because it places no limits on calories, carbohydrates, or portions. Participants can eat to satiety and still experience weight loss, lower cholesterol, and other benefits. Diabetes rates have climbed rapidly in recent years, and more than 20 million Americans now have the disease, which is linked to kidney failure, blindness, amputations, and cardiovascular disease.

Founded in 1985, the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine is a nonprofit health organization that promotes preventive medicine, conducts clinical research, and encourages higher standards for ethics and effectiveness in research.

Media Contact:
Jeanne McVey
202-686-2210, ext. 316

Neal Barnard, M.D.
Neal Barnard, M.D.

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