Dietary Quality in Vegetarian and Omnivorous Female Students in Germany: A Retrospective Study
Franco, Rodrigo Zenun
Finglas, Paul M
Vegetarian diets have gained in popularity, especially among highly educated women, and are considered beneficial to health. Comparative studies assessing the diet of vegetarians against omnivores are rather limited and often provide ambivalent results. Therefore, this study examined the nutrient intake and nutritional quality of vegetarian and omnivorous diets in a group of 61 female students in Germany. Habitual dietary intake was evaluated using a validated graphical online food frequency questionnaire (FFQ). Differences in nutrient intakes were analyzed by Mann-Whitney-U-Tests. Odds Ratios (OR) were calculated for vegetarians exceeding dietary reference values (DRV) compared to omnivores. The overall nutritional quality was assessed using the Healthy-Eating-Index-2015 (HEI-2015). In omnivores, intakes of total energy from saturated fatty acids (SFA), monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFA), long-chain omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (LC-n3-PUFA), cholesterol, sucrose, lactose, retinol, and cobalamin were significantly higher than in vegetarians. Significantly lower intakes were observed for fiber, magnesium, and beta-carotene. Significant OR were detected for total fat (OR = 0.29), SFA (OR = 0.04), beta-carotene (OR = 4.55), and cobalamin (OR = 0.32). HEI-2015 scores were higher for vegetarians than for omnivores (79 points versus 74 points) and significant differences were recorded for the HEI-2015 components dairy, seafood & plant proteins, fatty acids, added sugars, and saturated fatty acids.