Is the vegan diet healthy for children? Belgian doctors say no



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About 3% of Belgian children follow this type of vegetarianism which excludes meat, eggs, dairy products and all other ingredients of animal origin, according to the declaration of the academy. The food plan is "restrictive", creates "unavoidable" nutritional deficiencies and, if not properly monitored, could lead to deficiencies and developmental delay, said the academy .

The medical opinion was requested by a representative of a national human rights organization who sought advice from pediatricians and other health professionals. The Royal Academy of Medicine operates as a consultancy agency for Belgian government institutions.

Dr. Georges Casimir, pediatrician at Queen Fabiola Children's Hospital and chairman of the commission charged by the Academy to study the issue of veganism, has discouraged the diets of children and pregnant women in because of the possibility of "irreversible" damage. A vegan diet can pose a health problem: the lack of protein and essential fatty acids for brain development.

Vitamins, including essential ingredients such as D and B12, calcium or even trace elements and nutrients essential for proper development are "absent from this diet", according to a statement by Casimir.

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Isabelle Thiebaut, co-author of the opinion and president of a European dietetic organization, said that it was important to explain to parents "weight loss and psychomotor delays, the underage -nutrition, anemia "and other possible nutritional deficiencies caused by a vegan. diet for children. If parents do not follow the new recommendation, children who continue to follow a vegan diet should receive supplements, medical follow-up and regular blood tests, according to the academy.

Everyone does not agree with the statement of the academy.

The British Dietetic Association has stated that "a well-planned, plant-based and vegan-friendly diet can be designed to promote healthy living at all ages and at all stages of life." Britain has about 600,000 vegans, or about 1.2 percent of the population in 2018, according to the Vegan Society, a non-profit organization.
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The same opinion is maintained across the pond.

"Vegetarian diets, including vegan diets, are planned appropriately, are healthy and nutritionally adequate, and can have health benefits for the prevention and treatment of certain diseases," according to the Academy. Nutrition and Dietetics, an American organization for nutrition professionals. "These diets are suitable for all stages of the life cycle, including pregnancy, breastfeeding, infancy, childhood, adolescence, adult life and athletes."

The organization's position also indicates that vegans are at lower risk of suffering from certain health problems, including heart disease, type 2 diabetes, certain types of cancer and obesity.
A small group of vegetarians coined the term "vegan" in 1944, according to the Vegan Society. A recent study exploring the impact of different diets suggests that the global adoption of a vegan diet would prevent 8.1 million deaths annually by 2050.
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