Vegans are more likely to fracture a bone than those who follow a diet that is based around animal products, researchers have said.

People who eat a plant-based diet are 2.3 times more likely to break a hip than meat-eaters and 43% more likely to fracture a bone in general.

Vegetarians and people who ate fish are 25% more likely to break a hip than those who eat meat.

Lead author Dr Tammy Tong, from the Nuffield Department of Population Health at Oxford University, said: “Previous studies have shown that low BMI is associated with a higher risk of hip fractures, and low intakes of calcium and protein have both been linked to poorer bone health.

“This study showed that vegans, who on average had lower BMI as well as lower intakes of calcium and protein than meat-eaters, had higher risks of fractures at several sites.

“Well-balanced and predominantly plant-based diets can result in improved nutrient levels and have been linked to lower risks of diseases including heart disease and diabetes. Individuals should take into account the benefits and risks of their diet, and ensure that they have adequate levels of calcium and protein and also maintain a healthy BMI, that is, neither under nor overweight.”

The trial, which has been published in the journal BMC Medicine, involved 55,000 people who were asked to record their dietary choices.

Nearly 18 years after they were recruited to the study, the researchers looked at their hospital records and found that the vegans experienced nearly 15 more broken bones every 10 years when compared to those who ate an animal-based diet.

Of the 3,941 reported fractures vegans, vegetarians and pescetarians were found to be disproportionately represented when compared to those who ate meat and dairy products.

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