Is the vegan diet healthy for children? Belgian doctors say no
An estimated 3% of Belgian children follow this type of vegetarianism that excludes meat, eggs, dairy products and all other ingredients derived from animals, according to the declaration ...
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(CNN) - The Royal Academy of Medicine of Belgium recommended last week that children, adolescents, pregnant women and nursing mothers not follow a vegan diet.
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An estimated 3% of Belgian children follow this type of vegetarianism that excludes meat, eggs, dairy products and all other ingredients derived from animals, according to the statement of the academy, which said that the feeding plan is " restrictive ", creates" inevitable "nutritional deficiencies and, if not properly controlled, could lead to deficiencies and a delay in development.
The medical concept was requested by a representative of a national human rights organization, who sought guidance for pediatricians and other health workers. The Royal Academy of Medicine functions as an advisory agency for governmental institutions in Belgium.
Dr. Georges Casimir, pediatrician of the Reina Fabiola Children's Hospital and head of the commission appointed by the academy to study the issue of veganism, discouraged the diet for children and pregnant women due to the possibility of "irreversible" damage. A potential health problem caused by a vegan diet is the lack of sufficient proteins and essential fatty acids for the developing brain.
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Vitamins, including essential ingredients such as D and B12, calcium or even trace elements and nutrients essential for proper development are "absent in this diet," according to a Casimir statement.
Isabelle Thiebaut, co-author of the medical concept and president of a European organization for dietitians, said it is important to explain to parents about "weight loss and psychomotor delays, malnutrition, anemia" and other possible nutritional deficiencies caused by a vegan diet for children. If parents do not follow the new recommendation, children who continue a vegan diet should receive supplements, medical follow-up and regular blood tests, according to the academy.
Not everyone agrees with the statement of the academy.
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The British Dietetic Association stated that "vegetable and vegan-based diets can be designed to support a healthy life at any age and stage of life." Britain has approximately 600,000 vegans, approximately 1.2% of the population in 2018, according to the nonprofit Vegan Society.
The same opinion is maintained on the other side of the ocean.
"Properly planned vegetarian diets, including vegans, are healthy, nutritionally adequate and can provide health benefits for the prevention and treatment of certain diseases," according to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, a US organization for nutrition professionals. "These diets are appropriate for all stages of the life cycle, including pregnancy, breastfeeding, childhood, childhood, adolescence, adulthood and for athletes."
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The report in which the organization explained the medical concept also states that vegans have a reduced risk of certain health conditions, such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, certain types of cancer and obesity.
A small group of vegetarians coined the term "vegan" in 1944, according to the Vegan Society. A recent study that explored the impact of different diets suggests that global adoption of a vegan diet would prevent 8.1 million deaths per year by 2050.