Vegans are more likely to break bones than meat eaters - according to a new study

A new study has revealed that vegans are 2.3 times more likely to fracture bones than meat and fish eaters.

The study of nearly 55,000 people (including almost 2,000 vegans) found that those who did not have meat in their diets were 43 per cent more likely to suffer any type of broken bone.

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2.3 times more likely to fracture

Participants who took part were followed for 18 years on average for the EPIC-Oxford study. The results revealed there were 3,941 fractures occurred in total, and that the risk in vegans was 2.3 times higher than in people who ate meat.

However, data on whether the fractures were caused by poor bone health or accidents was not available.

Lead author Dr Tammy Tong, a nutritional epidemiologist at the Nuffield Department of Population Health, said, “We found that vegans had a higher risk of total fractures which resulted in close to 20 more cases per 1,000 people over a 10-year period compared to people who ate meat."

The study also showed that hip fractures were the most common break, but vegans were also at a higher risk of leg fractures and breaks, and other main sites like the arm, wrist, ribs and clavicle.

Dr Tong added, “Well-balanced and predominantly plant-based diets can result in improved nutrient levels and have been linked to lower risks of diseases including heart disease and diabetes.

"Individuals should take into account the benefits and risks of their diet, and ensure that they have adequate levels of calcium and protein and also maintain a healthy BMI, that is, neither under nor overweight."

Veganism on the rise

In 2019 there were 600,000 vegans in the UK, which is the equivalent to 1.2 per cent of the population, according to data from the Vegan Society.

In 2020, each major UK supermarket has its own range of vegan (or plant-based) offerings.

The rise in numbers could be due to the cost, convenience or an increased concern for health, the environment and animal welfare.