Plant-Based Diets Are Associated With Lower Adiposity Levels Among Hispanic/Latino Adults in the Adventist Multi-Ethnic Nutrition (AMEN) Study

Front Nutr. 2019 Apr 9;6:34. doi: 10.3389/fnut.2019.00034. eCollection 2019.


Background: The Hispanic/Latino population in the US is experiencing high rates of obesity and cardio-metabolic disease that may be attributable to a nutrition transition away from traditional diets emphasizing whole plant foods. In the US, plant-based diets have been shown to be effective in preventing and controlling obesity and cardio-metabolic disease in large samples of primarily non-Hispanic subjects. Studying this association in US Hispanic/Latinos could inform culturally tailored interventions. Objective: To examine whether the plant-based diet pattern that is frequently followed by Hispanic/Latino Seventh-day Adventists is associated with lower levels of adiposity and adiposity-related biomarkers. Methods: The Adventist Multiethnic Nutrition Study (AMEN) enrolled 74 Seventh-day Adventists from five Hispanic/Latino churches within a 20 mile radius of Loma Linda, CA into a cross-sectional study of diet (24 h recalls, surveys) and health (anthropometrics and biomarkers). Results: Vegetarian diet patterns (Vegan, Lacto-ovo vegetarian, Pesco-vegetarian) were associated with significantly lower BMI (24.5 kg/m2 vs. 27.9 kg/m2, p = 0.006), waist circumference (34.8 in vs. 37.5 in, p = 0.01), and fat mass (18.3 kg vs. 23.9 kg, p = 0.007), as compared to non-vegetarians. Adiposity was positively associated with pro-inflammatory cytokines (Interleukin-6) in this sample, but adjusting for this effect did not alter the associations with vegetarian diet. Conclusions: Plant-based eating as practiced by US-based Hispanic/Latino Seventh-day Adventists is associated with BMI in the recommended range. Further work is needed to characterize this type of diet for use in obesity-related interventions among Hispanic/Latinos in the US.

Keywords: Hispanic/Latino; Seventh-day Adventist; obesity; plant-based diet; vegetarian.