D. Michael Macknin led a study of obese children who were divided into two groups, and either fed a low-fat, no-oil vegan diet, or the American Heart Association recommended diet. Both groups lost weight. The kids eating the vegan diet, however, also showed significant improvements in systolic blood pressure, body mass index, total cholesterol, total low density lipoprotein (LDL, long referred to as “bad cholesterol”), c-reactive protein (another marker of inflammation), and insulin levels compared to their baseline.
You can read the study, published in the Journal of Pediatrics, at this link.
Ann Esselstyn wrote a letter about the back story of the study. Here is her letter:
Dr. Michael Macknin, the lead author of the obesity study, was the pediatrician for our daughter Jane’s three children. He was not plant based and, of course, at every appointment he covered all his pediatric bases: “Are the kids in car seats? Are the batteries in your smoke detectors up to date? Do your children have limited screen time? Are your children drinking milk every day?” Three times a year, at each child’s wellness appointment, he asked these questions and Jane’s reply was the same, “You can remove that milk question from your list. We don’t feed our children cow’s milk. We give them oat milk or almond milk, not cow’s milk.”
Jane talked about plant based nutrition and about my husband’s work at each visit. Dr. Macknin listened and watched her children grow over the years into champion swimmers, even a daughter who won states in the 200 IM as a high school freshman and a 14 year old boy just over 6’4”. ” Eventually, he attended one of my husband’s grand rounds at the Cleveland Clinic.
And then wonderful, open minded, open hearted Dr. Macknin approached Jane, who is an RN as well as the author of both the recipes in My Beef with Meat and most recently The Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease Cookbook with me, about creating a study for obese children with high cholesterol. Jane taught the nutrition and cooking classes to the plant based section of Dr. Macknin’s study. And as you can see, it was a roaring success!
It is a story that parents of all plant-based children should know because through their children and their own convictions, they can help improve the health of children by teaching their pediatricians the power of plant- based eating.
Ann Crile Esselstyn