Send to

Choose Destination
PLoS One. 2013 Aug 9;8(8):e71799. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0071799. eCollection 2013.

Reduced risk for metabolic syndrome and insulin resistance associated with ovo-lacto-vegetarian behavior in female Buddhists: a case-control study.

Author information

Department of Family Medicine, Dalin Tzuchi Hospital, Buddhist Tzuchi Medical Foundation, Chiayi, Taiwan.



The association of vegetarian status with the risk of metabolic syndrome (MetS) is not clear. In Asia, Buddhists often have vegetarian behavior for religious rather than for health reasons. We hypothesize that the vegetarian in Buddhism is associated with better metabolic profiles, lower risk for the MetS and insulin resistance (IR).


We enrolled 391 female vegetarians (~80% lacto-ovo-vegetarians) and 315 non-vegetarians from health-checkup clinics at a Buddhist hospital in Taiwan.


The vegetarian status was associated with lower body mass index, smaller waist circumference, lower total cholesterol, lower low density lipoprotein-cholesterol (LDL-C), and lower HDL-C in multivariate linear regression analyses. Despite having lower HDL-C level, the vegetarians had significantly lower total cholesterol/HDL-C and LDL-C/HDL-C ratios. After adjusting the other covariates, the risks for the MetS were lower for ovo-lacto-vegetarians of 1-11 years and >11 years respectively by 54% (odds ratio [OR] =0.46, 95%C.I.:0.26-0.79) and 57% (OR=0.43, 95%C.I.:0.23-0.76) compared to non-vegetarians by the IDF criteria. Likewise, they were lower respectively by 45% (OR=0.55, 95%C.I.:0.32-0.92) and 42% (OR=0.58, 95%C.I.:0.33-0.997), for the MetS by the modified NCEP criteria. In the subgroup of non-diabetic subjects, the vegetarians also had lower risk for IR by HOMA compared to the non-vegetarians (OR=0.71, 95%C.I.:0.48-1.06).


The vegetarian behavior, mainly lacto-ovo-vegetarian, related to Buddhism, although not meant for its health effects, is associated with reduced risk for the MetS and IR and may potentially provide metabolic and cardiovascular protective effects in women.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Public Library of Science Icon for PubMed Central
Loading ...
Support Center