The Knowledge and Attitudes of Pediatricians in Israel Towards Vegetarianism

Uri Hamiel, Nitsan Landau, Audelia Eshel Fuhrer, Tzippora Shalem, Michael Goldman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


OBJECTIVES: Pediatricians have an important role in the dietary education of children, and in the nutritional health of their patients. We aimed to assess nutritional knowledge, familiarity with guidelines, and attitudes of pediatricians regarding vegetarian diets. METHODS: A cross-sectional study using a previously implemented questionnaire, distributed amongst a convenience sample of pediatricians in Israel. For each participant, scores of knowledge and of attitudes towards vegetarian diets were calculated. Scores were analyzed and compared between various categorizations of the respondents. RESULTS: Of 270 respondents (60.4% female individuals), 14.1% were following a vegetarian or semi-vegetarian diet. The overall mean scores for knowledge and attitude were 37.9 ± 16.0% and 38.1 ± 20.7%, respectively. Among pediatricians currently following a vegetarian or semi-vegetarian diet, mean knowledge and attitude scores were higher by 12.2% (95% confidence interval [CI] 6.8-17.6, P < 0.001) and 17.4% (95% CI 10.5-24.2, P < 0.001), respectively, compared with nonvegetarians. Knowledge scores were found to be positively correlated with attitude scores. Only 13.4% of pediatricians felt that their medical degree studies prepared them well to deal with vegetarian patients. A higher knowledge score was correlated with inquiring of patients eating habits, and counseling on vegetarian diets. CONCLUSIONS: Pediatricians possess a low average knowledge base in vegetarian nutrition. The majority of pediatricians do not hold positive attitudes concerning vegetarian diets. We show a positive correlation between overall knowledge and overall attitude for individual participants. Increasing the knowledge base of pediatricians regarding vegetarian diets may lead them to conceive meatless diets in a more positive light and better counsel their patients.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)119-124
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Jul 2020


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