The authors used data from nearly 9,000 children between the ages of 6 months and 8 years, and TARGet Kids! Cohort between 2008 and 2019. OBJECTIVE Children! It is a research network and cohort study based on Toronto primary care practices. The details of the diets that these children ate depended on the parents, and their children responded that they were vegetarian (including vegans) or non-vegetarian.
At the start of the study, 248 children (including 25 vegans) were vegetarians, and an additional 338 children became vegetarians during the study. The children continued for an average of almost three years. There was no significant difference between vegetarian and non-vegetarian children in terms of standard BMI, height, serum ferritin level, and vitamin D level.
However, vegetarian children were almost twice as likely to be underweight than non-vegetarian children.
Being underweight can be a sign of malnutrition and may indicate that one’s diet is not enough to support proper growth, according to research news. No specific details about diet consumption or quality and physical activity were available to the authors, which could have affected their growth and nutrition.
Longer-term research and information on motivations for eating vegetarian – such as socioeconomic status – would help to understand the links between children’s development and vegetarianism, the authors said.
The finding underscores “the need to plan a diet for low-weight children who consider a vegetarian diet,” Maguir said.
“Children who were underweight (non-vegetarian and non-vegetarian) were similar and younger and of Asian descent,” said Amy Kimberlain, a registered dietitian nutritionist and spokeswoman for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Kimberlain was not involved in the investigation.
“Certainly the ethnicity may have been involved in finding the weight,” said Dr. Maya Adam, an assistant clinical professor in the pediatric department at Stanford School of Medicine, who was not involved in the study.
In any case, “it’s important for children to control their growth, no matter what their diet,” Kimberlain said. “A vegetarian diet can be a healthy option for all children. The key is to make sure it’s well-planned. With the help of a registered nutritionist, the growth of children can be monitored, as well as their nutrient needs. Consume properly.”
If you’re and your kids are experimenting with eating vegetarian or vegan, it’s important to have alternative options “if they like something one day and don’t like it the next,” Kimberlain said.