New CDC Count Finds 1 In 200 Kids Are Vegetarian
According to a study conducted in 2007 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on “complementary and alternative medicine,” 1 in 200 children had eaten a vegetarian diet in the past year for “therapy” (i.e., health) reasons. This result has been misinterpreted by news agencies stating that 1 in 200 children are vegetarian, but vegetarian advocates say this number is too low.
According to the CDC study, nearly 4 out of 10 adults had used complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) therapy in the past 12 months. Children whose parent used CAM were almost five times as likely (24%) to use CAM as children whose parent did not use CAM (5%).
In this survey, CAM therapies include vegetarian diets, and estimates of adults (age 18+) who had engaged in this diet over the last 12 months was 3,184,000 people in 2002 and 3,351,000 adults in 2007. An estimated 367,000 children (under 18 years) ate a vegetarian diet at some point during the last 12 months for therapeutic purposes. Some news agencies and other groups have taken this to mean that 1 in 200 children are vegetarians.
But this may not be true according to some vegetarian advocates. As Jack Norris at VeganHealth.org writes, “Reed Mangels, RD, PHD of the Vegetarian Resource Group pointed out that, ‘As you can see, many parents whose children follow vegetarian diets for religious, ethical, animal rights, environmental or other issues…would answer ‘no’ to this question and not be counted.’ Thus, it is not true that the survey shows that only 1 in 200 kids are vegetarian.”
According to other previous studies, vegetarians are most often female, from higher-income families and living on the East or West coasts. The trends contributing to the increasing number of vegetarians among children likely include increased awareness of animal issues (i.e. YouTube).