Another vegetarian truth
When I prepare blog material, I often come across different curious or even outrageous statements about vegetarianism. One of them, very persistent, is that the World Health Organization (WHO) allegedly recognized vegetarianism as a mental disorder … And when I even wrote about it in the comments, I could not resist and decided to conduct a small investigation: where did this “news” come from and how does it compare with reality. So what I found out.
The news sounds something like this: “The World Health Organization (WHO) has expanded the list of mental illnesses requiring immediate intervention by a psychiatrist. Vegetarianism and a raw-eating diet were added to it (sic! I quote, keeping spelling. – Yu.K.), which, according to the classification of mental disorders, are included in group F63.8 (other disorders of habits and drives). ”
This statement has nothing to do with reality at all, which anyone can easily see by going to the WHO website. Consider the World Health Organization classification of diseases, called the International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems, 10th Revision (ICD ‑ 10) – WHO Version. I am watching the current version, ICD ‑ 10, Version 2016. Neither under the number F63.8, nor under any other vegetarian number. But what is:
“F63.8. Other behavioral and impulsive disorders. This category applies to other types of persistently repeated inadequate actions that are not secondary to recognized psychiatric syndromes and in which one can think of a recurring inability to resist a craving for a particular behavior. There is a prodromal period of tension with a sense of relief in performing the appropriate action. ” (Honestly, this description reminds me very much … symptoms of sugar addiction and cravings for sweets =).
I cannot find on the WHO website any mention of the connection between vegetarianism and mental disorders. Moreover, there were denials of this news from official representatives of the organization. For example, Tatyana Kolpakova, a representative of the WHO’s regional Russian office, told Voice of Russia about these gossip: “This is an absolute lie.
Why is the representative of Russia and Voice of Russia? Perhaps, because it was in RuNet that this news was actively distributed (or maybe originally appeared – I can’t say for sure).
Finally, pay attention to the sources of news. They are small and not credible. For example, the above quote is given on a site called supersyroed.mybb.ru, which, like many other distributors, referred to news on resources like neva24.ru and fognews.ru. Yes, do not bother to open these links: they no longer exist. Such information can no longer be found on these resources today. And, more importantly, not to find this sensational news on sites that cause more trust, for example, large news agencies.
The peak of distribution of materials on the inclusion of vegetarianism in the list of mental disorders occurred in 2012 (the quoted news was dated March 20, 2012). And now, several years have passed – and the waves from this absurd and already refuted “fact” still appear here and there. Very sorry!
It happens that the reason for the appearance of such rumors is the (un) deliberate distortion of truthful information. Therefore, at the same time, I decided to find out what the science of the potential connection between vegetarianism and the mental state really knows. I refer to a publication in the International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity dated June 7, 2012 (that is, after the first “reports” of F63.8), the authors of which summarized many conclusions and conducted their research in Germany. The article is called “Vegetarian diet and mental disorders: results from a representative community survey)
Here is the conclusion of the authors: “In Western cultures, a vegetarian diet is associated with an increased risk of mental disorder. However, no evidence has been obtained of the causal role of vegetarianism in the etiology of mental disorder. ”
I’ll tell you a little more about what I learned from this study. Its authors identify three potential types of relationships between a vegetarian diet and a person’s mental state.
The first type of connection is biological. It is associated with a lack of certain nutrients that can be caused by vegetarianism. “At the biological level, nutritional status as a result of a vegetarian diet can affect the function of neurons and synaptic plasticity of the brain, which in turn affects the processes that are significant for the emergence and maintenance of mental disorders. For example, there is strong evidence that long-chain omega-3 fatty acids causally affect the risk of major depressive disorder.