Vegan or vegetarian for children too?
Is the vegetarian or vegan diet suitable for children and teenagers? Do you get enough nutrients with a predominantly plant-based diet? How healthy is it for children to avoid animal foods? More and more parents are asking themselves these and other questions. But they are looking for reliable information in vain - because so far the topic has not been sufficiently researched and contradictory recommendations are circulating. This is about to change: the Herdecke community hospital, the University of Witten-Herdecke, the University of Applied Sciences for Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (FHM), the University of Bonn, the Charité Universitätsmedizin Berlin and the Filder Clinic in Filderstadt-Bonlanden are working on a joint nutritional study on vegetarian and vegan nutrition of children and adolescents, the VeChi-Youth-Study (Vegetarian and Vegan Children and Youth Study).
They are becoming more and more: The number of vegetarians and vegans living in Germany is steadily increasing. The figures from ProVeg Deutschland e.V. (formerly Vegetarian Association Germany e.V.) show that it is no longer a trend. The association currently assumes that around ten percent of the population, i.e. around eight million people, are vegetarians. According to the results of a survey by the market research institute Skopos, 1.3 million people eat a purely plant-based diet, which means that around 1.6 percent of Germans are vegans.
With both forms of nutrition: tendency rising. Not only adults choose this form of nutrition: children and adolescents also eat more vegetarian and vegan. In this case, many parents are unsure how healthy the meat-free diet is and whether their children's nutritional supply is secure. So far there is hardly any reliable data that could, for example, show whether there are possible problems or from which advice concepts could arise.
That is why the Herdecke Community Hospital, the University of Witten-Herdecke, the University of Applied Sciences for Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (FHM), the University of Bonn, the Charité University Medicine Berlin, and the Filder Clinic in Filderstadt-Bonlanden have now started together with a nutritional study: the VeChi Youth Study (Vegetarian and Vegan Children and Youth Study).
From the results of the study, scientifically supported and practical recommendations for a vegetarian, vegan and mixed food diet for children and adolescents should be derived. “Unfortunately we see children relatively often who have suffered health problems due to malnutrition. That is why it is so important to us to use this study to collect reliable scientific data that will enable us to provide practical nutrition tips for safe and healthy nutrition, ”says Prof. Alfred Längler from the University of Witten / Herdecke, who runs the study center in Herdecke conducts.
The VeChi Youth Study initiators are still looking for participants between the ages of six and 18. For three consecutive days, the participating families should weigh and log all food and beverages that they ate and drank and fill out a questionnaire on health and lifestyle. In addition, body size, weight and skin fold thickness are recorded, blood pressure is measured and blood and urine samples are taken. This requires a one-time examination in one of the three study centers in Herdecke, Berlin or Filderstadt. As a thank-you, all participants receive a one-time allowance of 50 euros as well as the evaluation of the nutritional protocol and the results of the blood and urine tests. In particular, non-vegetarian children and adolescents are also addressed.
More information about the course of the study and online registration at www.vechi-youth-studie.de and www.gemeinschaftskrankenhaus.de