Nutrient Intake and Status of German Children and Adolescents Consuming Vegetarian, Vegan or Omnivore Diets: Results of the VeChi Youth Study.Nutrients. 2021 May 18; 13(5)N
There is a lack of data on associations between modern vegetarian and vegan diets and health among children and adolescents. The aim of the Vechi Youth Study was to cross-sectionally examine anthropometry, dietary intakes and nutritional status in a sample of 149 vegetarian, 115 vegan and 137 omnivore children and adolescents (6-18 years old, mean age: 12.7 ± 3.9 years). Group differences of dietary intake (calculated from three-day dietary records), nutrient biomarker and blood lipid concentrations were assessed using an analysis of covariance, adjusted for sex, age and other covariates. The total energy intake did not differ significantly between groups, but intake of carbohydrates was higher among vegetarians and vegans than among omnivores (p = 0.0002, respectively). The median protein intake exceeded 0.9 g/kg body weight/day in all diet groups and was lowest among vegetarians (p < 0.02). There was no significant difference of haemoglobin, vitamin B2, 25-OH vitamin D3, HDL-C and triglycerides blood concentrations between diet groups. Vegan participants had higher folate concentrations than vegetarian participants (p = 0.0053). Ferritin concentration was significantly higher in omnivores than in vegetarians (p = 0.0134) and vegans (p = 0.0404). Vegetarians had lower concentrations of holotranscobalamin (p = 0.0042) and higher concentrations of methylmalonic acid (p = 0.0253) than omnivores. Vegans had the lowest non-HDL-C and LDL-C concentrations in comparison to vegetarians (p = 0.0053 and p = 0.0041) and omnivores (p = 0.0010 and p = 0.0010). A high prevalence (>30%) of 25-OH vitamin D3 and vitamin B2 concentrations below reference values were found irrespective of the diet group. In conclusion, the Vechi Youth Study did not indicate specific nutritional risks among vegetarian and vegan children and adolescents compared to omnivores.