Objectives: To examine whether adolescent vegetarians were more likely than nonvegetarian peers to meet the dietary recommendations of the Healthy People 2010 objectives and to examine differences in other nutrients between these 2 groups.
Design: A total of 4746 adolescents from 31 middle and high schools in the Twin Cities area of Minnesota. Data were collected via self-report surveys, with a student response rate of 81.5%.
Setting: Urban secondary schools.
Participants: Participants were equally divided by sex. The mean age was 14.9 years; 34.3% were in junior high school and 65.7% in high school. The racial/ethnic distribution was 48.5% white, 19.0% African American, 19.2% Asian American, 5.8% Hispanic, 3.5% American Indian, and 3.9% mixed or other.
Main outcome measures: Questions on vegetarian status and whether particular foods (eggs, dairy foods, chicken, fish) were excluded. Dietary intake was assessed using the Youth and Adolescent Food Frequency Questionnaire.
Results: Vegetarian adolescents were significantly more likely than nonvegetarian adolescents to meet the Healthy People 2010 objectives. This was particularly noteworthy for total fat (70% vs 48%), saturated fat (65% vs 39%), daily servings of vegetables (26% vs 14%), and 5 or more servings of fruits and vegetables (39% vs 28%). Vegetarians were also less likely to eat fast food or drink regular soda and fruit drinks. Vegetarians consumed less vitamin B(12), more diet soda, more caffeine, and more iron.
Conclusion: Adolescent vegetarians have a dietary pattern that is more likely than nonvegetarians to meet the Healthy People 2010 objectives.