Plant-based, no-added-fat or American Heart Association diets: impact on cardiovascular risk in obese children with hypercholesterolemia and their parents

J Pediatr. 2015 Apr;166(4):953-9.e1-3. doi: 10.1016/j.jpeds.2014.12.058. Epub 2015 Feb 12.


Objective: To perform a randomized trial to determine whether there is cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk reduction from a plant-based (PB), no-added-fat diet and the American Heart Association (AHA) diet in children.

Study design: A 4-week (April 20, 2013 to May 18, 2013), prospective randomized trial was undertaken in a large, Midwestern hospital system's predominantly middle class outpatient pediatric practices. Thirty children (9-18 years of age) parent pairs with a last recorded child body mass index >95th percentile and child cholesterol >169 mg/dL were randomized to PB or AHA with weekly 2-hour classes of nutrition education.

Results: Children on PB had 9 and children on AHA had 4 statistically significant (P < .05) beneficial changes from baseline (mean decreases): body mass index z-score(PB) (-0.14), systolic blood pressure(PB) (-6.43 mm Hg), total cholesterol(PB) (-22.5 mg/dL), low-density lipoprotein(PB) (-13.14 mg/dL), high-sensitivity C-reactive protein(PB) (-2.09 mg/L), insulin(PB) (-5.42 uU/mL), myeloperoxidase(PB/AHA) (-75.34/69.23 pmol/L), mid-arm circumference(PB/AHA) (-2.02/-1.55 cm), weight(PB/AHA) (-3.05/-1.14 kg), and waist circumference(AHA) (-2.96 cm). Adults on PB and AHA had 7 and 2, respectively, statistically significant (P < .05) beneficial changes. The significant change favoring AHA was a 1% difference in children's waist circumference. Difficulty shopping for food for the PB was the only statistically significant acceptability barrier.

Conclusions: PB and the AHA in both children and adults demonstrated potentially beneficial changes from baseline in risk factors for CVD. Future larger, long-term randomized trials with easily accessible PB foods will further define the role of the PB in preventing CVD.

Trial registration: NCT01817491.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • American Heart Association
  • Body Mass Index
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / diet therapy*
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / epidemiology
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / etiology
  • Child
  • Diet, Fat-Restricted / methods*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Hypercholesterolemia / complications
  • Hypercholesterolemia / diet therapy*
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Obesity / complications
  • Obesity / diet therapy*
  • Plants, Edible*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Time Factors
  • United States / epidemiology

Associated data