Women on vegetarian diets more likely to break their hips, study finds | UK News

Women who follow a vegetarian diet are more likely to break their hips later in life, according to a new study.

Researchers from the University of Leeds found female vegetarians see their risk of hip fracture increase by 33% compared to those who eat meat.

They said a possible reason for this could be vegetarian diets “often have lower intakes of nutrients that are linked with bone and muscle health”.

More than 26,000 women aged 35-69 from across the UK took part in the study.

It assessed the risk of hip fracture among vegetarians, pescatarians – those who eat fish but not meat – and occasional meat eaters compared with regular meat eaters.

After around 20 years, researchers noted 822 hip fractures among the women – around 3% – and that an elevated risk of hip fracture was only among female vegetarians compared with women who regularly consumed meat.

The data was drawn from the UK Women’s Cohort Study, which is tracking women over time to assess the risks between diet and health.

Among the group of women 28% are vegetarian and 1% are vegan.

Study lead author James Webster said: “Our study highlights potential concerns regarding risk of hip fracture in vegetarian women.

“However, it is not warning people to abandon vegetarian diets – as with any diet, it is important to understand personal circumstances and what nutrients are needed for a balanced healthy lifestyle.”

He added: “Vegetarian diets often have lower intakes of nutrients that are linked with bone and muscle health. These types of nutrients generally are more abundant in meat and other animal products than in plants, such as protein, calcium, and other micronutrients.

“Low intake of these nutrients can lead to lower bone mineral density and muscle mass, which can make you more susceptible to hip fracture risk.”

Researchers said further research is needed to assess whether there could be similar results found among men.

The study has been published in the journal BMC Medicine.

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