Vegetable Protein Associated with Lower Body Weight

A study was published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association’s August issue doing an analysis of protein and weight gain. The odd thing about it was that they used data from a cohort of male employees of the Chicago Western Electric Company — from the 1950s!

In any case, they found that, after 7 years of follow-up, animal protein intake was associated with being overweight and obese, but vegetable protein was the opposite — inversely associated with being overweight. This would be a no-brainer except that they found this independent of calories, fat, and carbohydrate. The findings were highly significant.

The researchers theorized that the different amino acid composition of the animal vs. vegetable protein could account for the difference.

It would have been interesting to see a cohort study done like this in which fat-free mass was included as a variable. In other words, did the people eating more animal protein have a higher muscle mass leading to a higher body mass index (the measure of overweight and obesity)? But even if it did, I’d be surprised if it could make up for the high level of statistical significance. Further research is needed!

Citation

Bujnowski D, Xun P, Daviglus ML, Van Horn L, He K, Stamler J. Longitudinal Association between Animal and Vegetable Protein Intake and Obesity among Men in the United States: The Chicago Western Electric Study. J Am Diet Assoc. 2011 Aug;111(8):1150-1155. (Abstract)

2 Responses to “Vegetable Protein Associated with Lower Body Weight”

  1. beforewisdom Says:

    In any case, they found that, after 7 years of follow-up, animal protein intake was associated with being overweight and obese, but vegetable protein was the opposite — inversely associated with being overweight. This would be a no-brainer except that they found this independent of calories, fat, and carbohydrate. That findings were highly statistically significant.

    I’m really curious as to why researchers were even curious about this issue in the 1950s, let alone looking at Electric workers.

    I’ve seen a number of large vegetarians and vegans. The only way I can make sense of these statistics being independent of calorie intake would be that calorie intake wouldn’t matter past a certain point ( a point overweight vegans and vegetarians would pass ).

  2. Elaine Says:

    beforewisdom wrote: “I’ve seen a number of large vegetarians and vegans. The only way I can make sense of these statistics being independent of calorie intake would be that calorie intake wouldn’t matter past a certain point ( a point overweight vegans and vegetarians would pass ).”

    Why would you come to that conclusion?

    Sure, it’s a possibility. But there are other possibilities too. Why not come to the conclusion that many overweight and obese veg*ns would likely be even larger if they were nonveg? Or why not conclude that there’s a strong correlation between people who consume larger amounts of plant-based proteins and some other activity (or lacktheof that wasn’t in the scientists’ list of possible confounders) that affects metabolism? Or perhaps there’s a significant difference in terms of weight loss/weight control between cholesterol and other forms of saturated fat? Likewise for carbs… seems reasonable to assume that the people who at more veggies also ate more whole grains, perhaps the scientists didn’t adequately differentiate between the different kinds of carbohydrates. I don’t know because I can only read the abstract.

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