Which Is a Good Diet—Veg or Non-veg? Faith-Based Vegetarianism for Protection From Obesity—a Myth or Actuality?



India ranks first among nations with the largest population of vegetarians, and 40% of Asian Indians are vegetarian. There seems to occur a “nutrition transition” among vegetarians in India with a decline in the consumption of whole plant food content and replacement with processed foods, fried foods, and refined carbohydrates. This study evaluates the association between the consumption of a vegetarian diet and the prevalence of morbid obesity necessitating bariatric surgery in Asian Indians.

Material and Methods

This is a retrospective cohort study analyzing records of 235 Indian patients suffering from morbid obesity and who underwent bariatric surgery at our center through the years 2015 to 2017. Pearson’s chi-square test for independence of attributes was applied to analyze the difference between a number of vegetarians versus non-vegetarians undergoing bariatric surgery.


The difference in the number of vegetarians versus non-vegetarians undergoing bariatric surgery was not significant for years 2015 and 2017, but the number was numerically higher for vegetarians. The difference was significantly higher for vegetarians in the year 2016. The difference in female vegetarians versus female non-vegetarians undergoing bariatric surgery was not significant for the year 2017 but was significantly higher for vegetarians during the years 2015 and 2016. The difference in male vegetarians versus non-vegetarians undergoing bariatric surgery was not significant for all the years.


In an Asian Indian cohort, we found that vegetarian dietary patterns were associated with a higher incidence of morbid obesity culminating in bariatric surgery. Our study is a myth breaker that all vegetarian diets are healthy diets. Our findings can be utilized to discourage refined and processed food consumption and promote healthy vegetarian food choices.

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Correspondence to Sanjay Borude.

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Borude, S. Which Is a Good Diet—Veg or Non-veg? Faith-Based Vegetarianism for Protection From Obesity—a Myth or Actuality?. OBES SURG 29, 1276–1280 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11695-018-03658-7

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  • Vegetarian
  • Non-vegetarian
  • Diet
  • Bariatric surgery
  • Morbid obesity
  • Meat
  • Vegan
  • Asian Indian