SEHS2319 Health, Nutrition, and Lifestyle Article Critique

The Hong Kong Polytechnic University

School of Professional Education and Executive Development

General University Requirements (GUR)

SEHS2319 Health, Nutrition, and Lifestyle

(Semester 1, 2020/21)

Individual Assignment

(Final Assignment)


Student Number: XXXXX

Tutorial Group: XXXXX

Subject Lecturer: XXXXX

Language Instructor: XXXXX

Word Count: XXXX words


The article for this critical analysis is "Plant-Based Diets Are Associated with a Lower Risk of Incident Cardiovascular Disease, Cardiovascular Disease Mortality, and All-Cause Mortality in a General Population of Middle-Aged Adults" by Kim et al. (2019). The discussion will include a summary of the article’s findings, issues discussed, and implications of the study on health and nutrition. The discussion’s main aspect will show how plant-based diets promote healthy lifestyles by comparing similarities and differences in the article with class notes. The criticism is organized as follows: introduction showing summary and the thesis, similarities between the article and class notes, differences, and a critique of the accuracy of information presented by the article. The introduction summarizes the article and thesis; the body contains main arguments, and the conclusion summarizes the critical analysis. This paper’s body will consist of a criticism of how the article compares with class lectures and reading materials. The criticism, mostly will involve how the report accurately reflects lessons learned from the lecture notes and class discussions. A summary of the article focuses on plant-based diets that people can consume to reduce heart disease risks. The researchers identify there is a gap in the literature about previous studies being based on narrow generalizability. So, they conducted a community-based cohort to follow up diet’s participants consumed between 1987 and 1016 to establish plant-based diets that had high success in reducing cardiovascular mortality risks. They found that plant-based diets reduce heart disease risks by 11 percent, but comparisons among specific plant diets showed no significance to the study goals. This study is significant because it addresses food choices that include assessing meals consumed by participants per day. Overall, this critical analysis will suggest that the article shares of the class lessons concerning living healthy by consuming more plant-based diets and less animal-based diets.

Main Body of the Paper

Similarities between the article and the GUR Free Elective PowerPoint Presentation

The article shares similar findings from the lectures concerning health promotion associated with the consumption of more plant-based diets. The "GUR Free Elective" PowerPoint presentation (ppt) indicates that people should make better food choices. Slide 30 of this lecture slide reveals that a healthy lifestyle involves choosing plant-based diets over starchy foods. Although this slide shows shifting people’s lifestyles that have resulted in increased obesity and other nutritional diseases, it highlights a list of foods that promote healthy living. These foods include low carbohydrates, low fats, less animal protein, more fiber, and less sugar. Kim et al. (2019) support the same argument by suggesting that people should consume more plant-based diets and fewer animal foods. Moreover, slide twenty-six of the same ppt shows a list of plant-based diets people should take, such as beans, seaweeds, cabbages, peas, cucumbers, onions, peppers tomatoes. These types of foods are described in Kim et al. (2019) ‘s article as examples of plant-based foods linked with a lower risk of cardiovascular disease mortality. They are also associated with a reduction in all-cause mortality in the overall United States population. As Kim et al. (2019) explain, plant-based diets have clinical implications. Patients are advised by doctors to adopt preventive measures of consuming nutrient-dense foods and lower amounts of carbohydrates and animal foods. This claim is shared on slide 23 of the "GUR Free Elective" ppt, where the diagram illustrates people who take full responsibilities for their eating lifestyles are the healthiest and a few in numbers. This slide reflects an observation made by Kim et al. (2019) in their article by asserting that high mortality rates are associated with people choosing poor lifestyle choices, causing high heart disease prevalence rates.

How the article proves plant-based Nutrients Reduce Cardiovascular Risks

The article reveals a similar finding that a consumption of more plant-based diets and fewer animal foods is related with a lesser risk of heart diseases, obesity, type 2 diabetes mellitus, and ischemic illness. According to Kim et al. (2019), people who avoid eating animal foods like meat, poultry, or fish and consume more plant-based foods avoid getting cardiovascular diseases, including diabetes and obesity. Although the article presents this argument as a claim, the researcher further confirms its validity through cohort studies showing a reduction in cardiovascular mortality rates associated with unhealthy diets. The researchers demonstrate plant diets’ relevance by citing cohort studies covering populations comprising Seven-Day Adventists, vegetarians, and health-conscious individuals. Further, the articles confirm one of the class lessons that people who eat more plant diets are healthier than consumers of animal-based diets. For instance, prior studies have compared participants’ living habits based on a simple classification of plant-based diet indexes. Results have confirmed that advanced ingesting of plant diets and a lesser intake of animal diets leads to positive health outcomes. Individuals with superior devotion to pro-vegetarian diets were allied with a lesser risk of diabetes, coronary heart disease, and all-cause mortality (Kim et al. 2019).

Sources Supporting the Article’s Point Regarding Calorie Description in Food Products

Kim et al. (2019) ‘s article shows a table containing carbohydrate calories consumed by individuals to show that calorie labeling in food can prevent heart-related diseases. This same finding is made by Gustafson (2018), who indicates that there should be the labeling of foods sold in various food outlets, especially in restaurants, to help people regulate calorie intake and stay healthy. The source reveals restaurants should provide calories because they serve as the second-best alternative for busy parents who do not have time to prepare healthy for their children. For example, if a parent is always busy with work and does not have time to prepare healthy meals and takes the child to kindergarten, this is a risk factor that can lead to their health problems. Also, I have found that some parents who care more about their children’s health choose to buy restaurant foods and encourage their kids to engage in after-school sports. However, these physical exercise programs do not reduce the impact of children becoming overweight or being at risk of developing cardiovascular diseases since they are exposed to unhealthy foods sold at restaurants (Gustafson, 2018). Therefore, restaurants should offer correct calories content to provide healthy foods for such busy parents who prefer to buy food for their children because they do not have time to cook healthy foods at their homes.  

The Similarity between the article and Food Insecurity Sources

Kim et al. (2019) indicate most families cannot afford balanced diets; therefore, they are likely to eat fast-foods to meet their nutritional needs. Low-income families are the most affected by food insecurity, making them take foods with low nutritional content, but rich in high fats and calorie content. Similarly, Zhao et al. (2017) explain the rising obesity cases in the United States, where children take fast-foods from vendor machines, becoming overweight and at risk of developing coronary heart diseases. Zhao et al. (2017) reveal that 4.8 million people live in food-insecure households; 12.4 million people live in households with very low food security, 914,000 children, and 1.2% of the nation’s children census have at least experienced food insecurity. The pie chart below shows the United States household with low food security as a 2014 food survey.

An observation from Zhao et al. (2017) has shown that children with overweight parents are likely to be overweight. Studies indicate that genetic factor contributes to over 70% of the human’s body weight. Moreover, in the United States, people have increased their dining at restaurants; fast-food chains stores, prepared meals that are high in fat and calorie, and Zhao et al. (2017) reveal that adults who are overweight and obese are 59.3% with a BMI of 25 or greater, and 23% were obese with a BMI of 36 and above. On dietary behaviors, 36.8% of adults reported consuming fruits at the recommended levels of 2 fruits per day. 21.3% of adults reported consuming vegetables at a rate of 3 times per day. The source also provides data on the physical inactivity of adults who are overweight. According to a CDC survey, 23% did not engage in any physical activity for at least 60 minutes on any during the seven days that the survey was done. 30.4% of the participants spent most of their time watching television for more than 4 hours on an average school day.

Counterarguments to the Article on Causes of Cardiovascular Diseases

Kim et al. (2019) argue that the best way of preventing cardiovascular and other nutritional-related diseases is by eating a balanced diet, consuming plant-based diets, and doing physical exercises. Different studies have focused on prevention measures, including behavioral and genetic features that contribute to people developing cardiovascular diseases. Despite these findings, numerous sources have produced mixed results. Scaglioni et al. (2018) have highlighted that the family institution should play a major role in preventing heart diseases. It is the parents’ responsibility to monitor foods children eat and their behaviors until they become adults. Thus, Scaglioni et al. (2018) focus on creating awareness among families to reduce cardiovascular disease prevalence rates. This source differs from Kim et al. (2019) by suggesting the adaption of good lifestyles among the children. The best way to prevent cardiovascular diseases is to ensure that children adapt to positive lifestyles when they are still young such as doing physical exercise. The central social institution with the greatest role is the family. 

Counterargument on the Importance of Fitness Programs

Although Kim et al. identify the importance of physical exercises in preventing cardiovascular disease, its explanations are shallow. An article providing a detailed counterargument focused on physical exercises is Silva et al. (2017). They suggest fitness programs can be designed to combat the sedentary lifestyles with the help of certified fitness coaches. The coaches help individuals with cardiovascular diseases following four components of the program guidelines. The first guideline is sports and exercise. Supervisors teach about good form and help them pace themselves as they play football, basketball, jog, run, and participate in weight lifting and yoga classes (Silva et al. 2017). The second essential component that the organization’s program offers is nutrition education. People are served lunch that is healthy and organic, and they attend classes where they are taught to cook and prepare simple, healthy meals. Also, there are weekly nutrition classes that teach people to read food labels and avoid high fat and calorie content.

Nutrition education aims to help participants understand the relationship between food choices and feeling good (Silva et al. 2017). The fourth essential component is parental involvement, during which individual child and parent meetings are organized, and program staffs take a review of the home food periodical that is reserved by the kid. The journal is an important food for teaching children to live healthy and new habits at home (Silva et al. 2017). The fourth component is the assessment and the monitoring of success. The organization has nurses that record the body mass index, blood pressure, and heart rate at the program’s start. Weekly, there is a program staff that measures the participants’ progress in terms of reduced-fat percentage (Silva et al. 2017). The staff also measures the enrolled members to improve fitness, endurance in heart rate and blood pressure, and the familiarity gained on nutrition and food selections.

Counterargument Highlighting Socioeconomic Factors as Causes of Heart Diseases

Although Kim et al. (2019) claim cardiovascular diseases’ root causes are non-plant-based diets, Schultz et al. (2018) argue the high prevalence rates are linked to behavioral economics. The source reveals human beings are heavily influenced by the default conditions existing in their environment. Defaults can be understood as the daily conditions people are exposed to that can influence their behavior and health. For example, the presence of polluted water can cause health problems. As such, progress comes through removing the toxic substances from the water, not telling people to react differently, such as by boiling water. Similarly, the food environment can influence behavior, especially in selection and consumption. For example, manipulating the availability, sizing, appearance, and serving of food in schools, such as eliminating a la carte and vending machines have a positive impact on changing the diets of children (Schultz et al. 2018); consequently, reducing the risk of cardiovascular diseases.

In a broader environmental view, there are food policies that affect the entire population’s food consumption. According to the United Nations National Food Program report, the lack of enforcement of these policies has contributed to higher risks of heart diseases. In some cases, food advertising companies offer free meals for every product sold without considering the number of micronutrients and macronutrients present in their food products. Policies concerning the production, processing, marketing, eating habits, and the nutritional compositions of the food products have contributed to the high rates of cardiovascular diseases worldwide (Schultz et al. 2018). Moreover, the government has a role to play by responding to the nutritional problems caused by poor eating habits. For example, the Food Drug Administration (FDA) implements policies that require agencies in the state that purchase foods on a large scale (hospitals and residential institutions) to comply with healthy food guidelines during their foodservice operations (Schultz et al. 2018). The health department has developed websites and videos concerning healthy food nutrition to assist the government agency complying with the food guidelines.



The education alone on advising people to consume plant-based diets is not an adequate answer to reducing cardiovascular diseases within populations. Kim et al. (2019) article indicates people should consume plant-based diets to stop heart diseases. However, the literature on healthy living reveals that new approaches should be adopted, especially in developing physical exercise programs to promote healthy lifestyles. For example, the lecture notes have identified that the lack of physical is putting people at risk of developing nutritional-related diseases, including heart diseases and obesity. Moreover, the lecture notes suggest people should learn to consume healthy food by following nutritional education guidelines.

Overall Evaluation

In a critique of how Kim et al. (2019) article compares with other sources, this paper demonstrates ways to avoid unhealthy lifestyles depends on understanding one’s social support system and cultural influences. For instance, if individuals realize that they have indulgence in eating junky foods from fast food joints, they should avoid them and choose healthier diets. Moreover, there is a need for health experts to regulate the selling of high-calorie foods by recommending the description of calorie contents in food products. The literature identifies that people should be educating people to eat healthy foods and do exercises.


A recommendation involves implementing health promotion programs such as physical fitness programs. For instance, one 20-ounce of sports drink contains about 122 calories of sugar, which is more than the amount needed in the body per day. Most individuals are unaware that high-calorie intake over the years leads to the accumulation of fats on coronary vessels, increasing their risk of getting heart diseases. Health nutritionists should conduct a screening test to determine if people have precursors for cardiovascular disease, diabetes and refer them to fitness and nutritional programs. There is also a need to categorize unhealthy food choices, especially processed foods, with unlabeled calorie content. People must understand where they can make the most impactful improvements in their health by identifying behaviors that negatively affect their health. This includes creating awareness programs that educate people on food, diets, they should consume per day and recommending frequent consumption of plant-based proteins. This will have a big impact on reducing cardiovascular and other nutritional-related diseases.


Gustafson, C. (2018). The effect of ingredient-specific calorie information on calories

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Kim, H. et al. (2019). Plant-based diets are associated with a lower risk of incident

cardiovascular disease, cardiovascular disease mortality, and all-cause mortality in a general population of middle-aged adults. Journal of American Heart Association, 1-31.

Scaglioni, S., et al. (2018). Factors Influencing Children’s Eating Behaviours.

Nutrients, 10(6), 706.

Silva, D. A. S., Chaput, Jean-Philippe, & Katzmarzyk, P. (2017). Physical Education

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Schultz, W. M., et al. (2018). Socioeconomic Status and Cardiovascular Outcomes.

AHA Journals, 137(20). Retrieved from:

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and its associations with obesity and hypertension among children: results from the baseline data of the Childhood Obesity Study in China Mega-cities. BMC Public Health, 17(933), 2-10.