Public Health Article

Effect of vegetarian diets on the presentation of metabolic syndrome or its components: A systematic review and meta-analysis

Review Quality Rating: 8 (strong)

Citation: Picasso MC, Lo-Tayraco JA, Ramos-Villanueva JM, Pasupuleti V, & Hernandez AV. (2018). Effect of vegetarian diets on the presentation of metabolic syndrome or its components: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Clinical Nutrition, 10.1016/j.clnu.2018.05.021.

PubMed LinkOut


BACKGROUND & AIMS: Several studies have examined the effect of vegetarian diets (VD) on metabolic syndrome (MetS) or its components, but findings have been inconsistent. The aim of this study was to perform a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials (RCTs) and observational studies to assess the association between VD and MetS or its components (systolic blood pressure [SBP], diastolic blood pressure [DBP], fasting glucose triglycerides, waist circumference [WC], HDL-cholesterol (HDL-C)) in adults.
METHODS: The Cochrane Library, EMBASE, PubMed, Web of Science, and Scopus were searched. RCTs, cohort studies and cross-sectional studies evaluating the effects of VD on MetS or its components in adults, with omnivore diet as control group, were included. Random effects meta-analyses stratified by study design were employed to calculate pooled estimates.
RESULTS: A total of 71 studies (n = 103 008) met the inclusion criteria (6 RCTs, 2 cohorts, 63 cross-sectional). VD were not associated with MetS in comparison to omnivorous diet (OR 0.96, 95% CI 0.50-1.85, p = 0.9) according to meta-analysis of five cross-sectional studies. Likewise, meta-analysis of RCTs and cohort studies indicated that consumption of VD were not associated with MetS components. Meta-analysis of cross-sectional studies demonstrated that VD were significantly associated with lower levels of SBP (mean difference [MD] -4.18 mmHg, 95%CI -5.57 to -2.80, p < 0.00001), DBP (MD -3.03 mmHg, 95% CI -4.93 to -1.13, p = 0.002), fasting glucose (MD -0.26 mmol/L, 95% CI -0.35to -0.17, p < 0.00001), WC (MD -1.63 cm, 95% CI -3.13 to -0.13, p = 0.03), and HDL-C (MD -0.05 mmol/L, 95% CI -0.07 to -0.03, p < 0.0001) in comparison to omnivorous diet. Heterogeneity of effects among cross-sectional studies was high. About, one-half of the included studies had high risk of bias.
CONCLUSIONS: VD in comparison with omnivorous diet is not associated with a lower risk of MetS based on results of meta-analysis of cross-sectional studies. The association between VD and lower levels of SBP, DBP, HDL-C, and fasting glucose is uncertain due to high heterogeneity across the cross-sectional studies. Larger and controlled studies are needed to evaluate the association between VD and MetS and its components.


Adults (20-59 years), Behaviour Modification (e.g., provision of item/tool, incentives, goal setting), Cardiovascular Disease, Diabetes, Meta-analysis, Nutrition, Seniors (60+ years)

Register for free access to all Professional content

Want the latest in aging research? Sign up for our email alerts.
© 2012 - 2019 McMaster University | 1280 Main Street West | Hamilton, Ontario L8S4L8 | +1 905-525-9140 | Terms Of Use