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It is never too early to reduce fat intake

Dietary fat restriction in infancy could prevent the development of coronary heart disease in adulthood.

September 27, 2000

Restricting dietary intake of saturated fat and cholesterol in children under five years of age could reduce age-related increases in serum cholesterol and LDL cholesterol concentrations, according to researchers in Finland.

Dr Leena Rask-Nissilä and colleagues at the University of Turku carried out a prospective study (Circulation 2000 102:1477-1483) on 1,062 seven-month-old infants who were randomized to either a control group or an intervention group. Parents and carers of infants in the intervention group received tailored dietary counseling aiming at an optimal fat intake of 30-35% mg/d. The team found that children in the intervention group had lower intakes of saturated fat and cholesterol values than the control children. The mean serum cholesterol values of the intervention boys was 0.39 mmol/L lower than the control boys between 13 and 60 months (p<0.0001). However, among the girls, only a marginally significant difference was seen (0.15 mmol/L, p=0.052). Mean serum LDL cholesterol concentrations were 9% lower in the intervention group boys than the control boys at five years (p=0.0002; 95% CI –0.39 to –0.12 mmol/L), whereas no difference was observed in girls. In both sexes, serum triglyceride concentrations were similar in the two groups.

The authors suggest that the differences between boys and girls could be explained by prepubertal hormonal differences or sex-related differences in the amount of adipose tissue in the body. Dr Rask-Nissilä and colleagues conclude that instigating a healthy diet and lifestyle early on in childhood could prevent the development of coronary heart disease later in life.

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