MINNEAPOLIS, April 10 (UPI) -- Vegetarians tend to eat healthier diets and are less likely to be overweight, but they may be at increased risk for food disorders, U.S. researcher said.
Researchers at University of Minnesota, University of Texas and St. John's University analyzed vegetarianism, weight, dietary intake and weight-control behaviors data from a population-based study in Minnesota of more than 2,500 males and females ages 15-23.
The researchers found vegetarians ate healthier diets than non-vegetarians when it came to fruits, vegetables and fat intake. Among young adults, current vegetarians were less likely to be overweight or obese.
However, adolescent and young adult vegetarians were also more likely to report binge eating with loss of control compared to non-vegetarians. Among young adults, former vegetarians were more likely to engage in extreme unhealthful weight-control behaviors than people who either were currently vegetarians or had never followed a vegetarian eating plan.
Examples of extreme unhealthful weight-control behaviors included "took diet pills," "made myself vomit," "used laxatives" and "used diuretics."
"Study results indicate that it would be beneficial for clinicians to ask adolescents and young adults about their current and former vegetarian status when assessing risk for disordered eating behaviors," the researchers said in a statement. "Furthermore, it may also be important to investigate an individual's motives for choosing a vegetarian diet."
The findings were reported in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association.