The vegetarian diet as also linked to lower rates of heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure and other life-threatening conditions linked to overweight and obesity, said study authors Susan E. Berkow and Dr. Neal D. Barnard of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine.
The authors found that the body weight of both male and female vegetarians is, on average, 3 percent to 20 percent lower than that of meat eaters.
The scientific review of 87 previous studies, published in Nutrition Reviews, found the best of the clinical studies isolated the effects of diet by keeping exercise constant. The researchers found that a low-fat vegan diet leads to weight loss of about 1 pound per week, even without additional exercise or limits on portion sizes, calories or carbohydrates.
"Our research reveals that people can enjoy unlimited portions of high-fiber foods such as fruits, vegetables and whole grains to achieve or maintain a healthy body weight without feeling hungry," says Berkow, the lead author.