Be a vegan for 17 years, add almost 4 years to life

Study recommends parents to play Squires Quest! II for kids to eat fruits and veggies
By @vitthernandez on
Vegetable Salad Bar
Pre-cut vegetables of a self service salad bar are displayed for sale in a shop in the northern German town of Hamburg May 26, 2011. Reuters/Morris Mac Matzen

Being a vegan comes with risk of cancer and heart diseases if the person carries the DNA that makes then susceptible to inflammation. However, for those without that DNA, going vegetarian could extend their life by a few more years.

A study by doctors from the Mayo Clinic in Arizona of over 1.5 million people found, on one hand, that going vegetarian for at least 17 years added an average of 3.6 years to life expectancy, reports The Telegraph. On the other hand, people who ate meat, particularly red and processed meats, had higher mortality rates.

The doctors analysed six studies which showed the impact of meat and vegetable consumption on mortality. But the study, published in the Journal of the American Osteopathic Association, did not recommend for physicians to tell their patients to stop eating meat. Rather, the recommendation was to limit intake of animal products as much as possible and eat more veggies.

In their review of 500,000 who hardly ate meat, the researchers found it cut risk of all causes of mortality by 25 to 50 percent. The studies were conducted in the US, Europe and China which had follow-up periods from 5.5 to 28 years.

But while doctors can recommend, ultimately, it is at home where eating of veggies would be implemented. Another study, published in the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behaviour, by scientists from the Baylor College of Medicine and Texas Children’s Hospital, recommends that parents play with their children a video game to encourage their kids to eat fruits and veggies.

The game, Squires Quest! II: Saving the Kingdom of Fivealot, helped Grades 4 and 5 students improve their fruit and veggie intake at specific meals. The research had 400 students who played 10 episodes of the video game and created action or coping implementation action, or both, while setting goals to eat vegetables and fruits at specific meals.

The researchers subsequently completed 24-hour dietary recalls with the children through phone calls three times a day and averaged their fruit and veggie intake for the three meals. After six months of intervention, the kids logged improvement of intake for vegetables and fruits with 79 percent meeting all goals made during the video game.