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October 2022

J Am Diet Assoc. 1986 Jul; 86(7): 913-8.

Health practices, attitudes, and beliefs of vegetarians and nonvegetarians.

Freeland-Graves JH, Greninger SA, Graves GR, Young RK.

Health practices, attitudes, and beliefs were studied in 150 vegetarians and 150 nonvegetarians matched for age and sex. A questionnaire was administered that included a medical history and questions concerning use of medications, recreational drugs, nutrition supplements, and alcohol; smoking habits; exercise; and relaxation activities. The questionnaire also included Likert scales on which the subjects rated themselves according to their knowledge and practice of nutrition and diet and their agreement or disagreement with statements concerning health. Vegetarians believed in visiting a physician when they were ill but were more willing to try alternative or unusual therapies and/or preventive treatments. Substances that are potentially harmful to the body, such as alcohol, tobacco, or prescription drugs, were used less frequently by vegetarians. Conversely, greater use was seen of substances that are thought to improve health. The area of greatest difference between the groups was in their attitudes and beliefs concerning health. Although the vegetarians believed that they as a group were healthier than nonvegetarians, the lack of differences in self-ratings of health and incidence of health problems suggest that that perception may not be true.

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