Poor diet quality is the leading cause of death both in the United States and worldwide, and the prevalence of obesity is at an all-time high and is projected to significantly worsen. Results from an eight-week group program utilizing an ad-libitum whole-food plant-based dietary pattern, were reviewed. There were 79 participants, all self-referred from the community, including 24 (30.4%) who were already vegetarian or vegan at baseline. Seventy-eight participants (98.7%) completed the eight-week program. Among completers, those with higher BMI at baseline lost a larger percentage of their body weight (total body weight loss of 3.0 ± SD 2.1%, 5.8 ± 2.8%, and 6.4 ± 2.5% for participants who had baseline BMI in normal, overweight, and obese range, respectively). The average weight loss for all the completers was 5.5 ± 3.0 kg (p <
0.0001). Final blood pressure and plasma lipids were reduced compared to baseline (SBP decreased 7.1 ± 15.5 mmHg (p
= 0.0002), DBP decreased 7.3 ± 10.9 mmHg (p <
0.0001), total cholesterol decreased 25.2 ± 24.7 mg/dL (p <
0.0001), LDL decreased 15.3 ± 21.1 mg/dL (p <
0.0001)). Twenty-one (26.9%) participants were able to decrease or stop at least one chronic medication compared to two (2.6%) participants who required an increased dose of a chronic medication. Participants who were already vegetarian or vegan at baseline experienced statistically significant weight loss and reductions in total and LDL cholesterol. There was a non-significant trend toward less weight loss in these participants compared to participants who were non-vegetarian at baseline. Reductions in total and LDL cholesterol were not significantly different when comparing vegetarian or vegan and non-vegetarian participants. A whole-food plant-based dietary intervention may provide significant short-term benefits for both non-vegetarian, vegetarian, and vegan individuals.
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