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Asia Pac J Clin Nutr. 2009;18(2):265-71.

Body composition and nutrient intake of Buddhist vegetarians.

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Institute of Nutritional Sciences, Wilhelmstrasse 20, 35392 Giessen, Germany.


We described the body composition and nutrient intake of Buddhist vegetarians and compared the data with that of omnivores in South Korea. Vegetarian subjects were 54 Buddhist nuns, who adhered to a vegetarian diet in accordance with Buddhist teachings. We compared these finding with a group of 31 omnivore Catholic nuns who shared a similar lifestyle but different dietary pattern than those of the Buddhist nuns. All subjects completed the estimated three-day dietary record. Body composition was determined by a segmental multi-frequency-bioelectrical impedance analysis method. No height difference between the dietary groups existed but the vegetarians had a significantly higher body weight, fat free mass, body fat and body mass index (BMI, kg/m2) than the omnivores. The median BMI of both vegetarians and omnivores fell in the normal range (22.6 vs. 20.7 kg/m2). In vegetarians, body fat was inversely correlated with the duration of vegetarianism (p for trend=0.043). The long duration group of the vegetarians had lower body fat than the short duration group (12.l vs. 15.0 kg, p=0.032). The status of the nutrient intake of Korean Buddhist vegetarians was comparable to that of omnivores, and the intake of some nutrients in vegetarians was more favorable than in the omnivores.

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