In the US over 300,000 older people especially those older than 65 suffer from hip fractures every year. Men and women who follow a vegetarian diet have an even higher risk of serious hip injuries. A low BMI may explain why their risk is higher.
“Hip fractures are a growing problem in an aging society and can lead to debilitating health problems resulting in loss of quality of life,” says James Webster, a researcher at the University of Leeds (England), in a press release. In a recent study, he set out to determine the risk of hip fracture among vegetarians. To do this, his team analyzed data from 413,914 adults.
The cohort in the study was split into the following groups:
- People who ate meat five or more times a week.
- People who ate meat occasionally,
- Those who followed a pescetarian diet, which included seafood as the only source of protein.
- Vegetarians who ate dairy products but no fish or meat.
This data was linked to their medical records.
Risk of hip fracture 50% higher in vegetarians
Among the participants, 3,503 cases of hip fracture were recorded, which corresponds to an overall incidence of less than one percent (0.8%). According to the results, published in the journal BMC Medicine, the risk of hip fracture between vegetarians and regular meat eaters was significant. Volunteers who followed a vegetarian diet had a 50 percent higher risk than adults who regularly ate meat, regardless of gender. Those who followed a pescetarian diet had a slightly higher risk (8 percent) than regular meat eaters.
The authors calculated how these differences could be translated into reality. They predicted that on average, about six regular meat eaters and six occasional meat eaters would suffer hip fractures, while there would be seven cases among pescetarians and about nine cases among vegetarians.
Webster, J., Greenwood, D.C. & Cade, J.E. Risk of hip fracture in meat-eaters, pescatarians, and vegetarians: a prospective cohort study of 413,914 UK Biobank participants. BMC Med 21, 278 (2023). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12916-023-02993-6