Plant based diets, sports and exercise for children and families

27 June, 2020

Dear CHIFA advocates!

Good (or bad) health behaviour from lifestyle factors such as diet, sports & exercise tracks over time from early childhood into adulthood and old age. Therefore early intervention is key to shaping the health of future generations as public and even global health emerges from personal and individual health:

* Kids learn from their parents and teachers.

* Therefore, up-to-date information based on a wealth of evidence-based literature is relevant to adults and serves to advise and reflect health literacy and promotion based on sound theory.

* As a result more sensitivity to "alternative" or mostly "unknown" (although up-to-date) approaches to health, based on a refreshed health consciousness can grow in adults, especially health advocates, being aware of their role as multipliers and role models. See references below.

Since food and sport are considered to be 'medicines', their continuous inter-related application is a highly effective but simple tool for improving individual health.

A simple formula can be proposed as a realistic vision of a minimal recommendation for health promotion:

(Healthy eating) + (daily moderate sports & exercise) = "super"-medicine

The practical application of this dual approach and its background information, combined with the knowledge that vegan diets are compatible with sports & exercise, could encourage young people and their families, and experts in health and sports, to recommend, test or even adopt healthier lifestyles (plant-based, daily activity).

Thus, a current study on the dual approach to sustainable and lifelong health as minimal recommendation through all ages concludes that adults should be more open-minded when young (and active) people express their desire to adopt a vegan diet.

8.3% of 2200 parents in the UK raised their children (0-12 yrs.) vegan with 61% citing health benefits cited as the main reason

The Academy of nutrition and Dietetics is the largest specialized nutrition organization in the world. In its 2016 position paper the Academy stated:

"It is the position of the Academy … .. that appropriately planned vegetarian, including vegan, diets are healthful, nutritionally adequate, and may provide health benefits for the prevention and treatment of certain diseases. These diets are appropriate for all stages of the life cycle, including pregnancy, lactation, infancy, childhood, adolescence, older adulthood, and for athletes.

Plant-based diets are more environmentally sustainable than diets rich in animal products because they use fewer natural resources and are associated with much less environmental damage.

Vegetarians and vegans are at reduced risk of certain health conditions, including ischemic heart disease, type 2 diabetes, hypertension, certain types of cancer, and obesity.” Reference below

Sports mastery generally contributes to a social status. Vegans however frequently experience discrimination, either subtly or openly, in social environments from family members, friends, colleagues at work and school, teachers, principals and educational authorities.

But also discrimination from experts, decision makers, multipliers and role models in health and education while these should be the ones that encourage and empower young people to adopt and adhere a healthy eating and activity pattern

In addition to the wealth of evidence-based literature considering the health effects resulting from (1) sports & exercise and (2) plant-based diets, this dual approach to sustainable health is highly relevant not only to the current situation of COVID-19 but also to help preventing future epidemics/pandemics,

with several leading experts in this field making the connection between the current pandemic/future pandemics and meat consumption/production, and even the carcinogenicity of meat and processed meat (WHO-IARC, 2015)

WHO-Sources published online during the COVID-19 Lockdown/self-quarantine also provide the linkage of the major lifestyle factors that are well-accepted to shape health, stop and reverse several disease (tips on , sports & exercise permanently tied up to tips on healthy diet:

* WHO recommends 6 of 9 "Best food buys" from plants

* WHO recommends to "Stay physically active during self-quarantine" with at least 60 min daily for children and 150 min weekly for adults

Stay healthy and active,

Best to you and your families,


CHIFA Profile Katharina Wirnitzer works at the Department of Subject Didactics and Educational Research and Development, University College of Teacher Education Tyrol, Austria.


* AND 2016 position paper:

* Wirnitzer KC (2020). Open access and free download:

* WHO with Food and nutrition tips during self-quarantine provided online (25. May 2020):

* WHO with PA, Sports & Exercise tips during self-quarantine provided online (25. May 2020):

* Dr. Gauden Galea, WHO Representative (CNN Transcript: 20. 1. 2020): "As long as people eat meat, there is going to be some risk of infection."

* Prof. Dr. Christian Drosten, Virologist, Charité Berlin (Stern-Interview: 21. 3. 2020; Spiegel online Archiv: 28. 3. 2020): "... meat consumption increases the pandemic risk."

* Prof. Dr. Oliver Razum, Head of Unit "Epidemiologie und Int. Public Health", University of Bielefeld (Neue Westfälische Zeitung: 25. 3. 2020): "In order to reduce the likelihood of future epidemics, ... one important consequence for the time after the current epidemic is there fore to dramatically reduce meat production and consumption.”