Dietary Counseling in Childhood Reduces Serum Lipids

Saturated-fat restricted diet did not impair children's physical development

MONDAY, Aug. 13 (HealthDay News) -- Counseling families and children about diets low in saturated fat starting in infancy can significantly improve cholesterol levels in children through age 14 without affecting normal growth and development, according to a study published online Aug. 13 in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association.

Harri Niinikoski, M.D., Ph.D., of the University of Turku in Finland, and colleagues randomized 1,062 infants at 7 months of age to an intervention group that received special diet instructions or to a control group that was not given dietary advice. Nutritionists met with families and children in the intervention group at regular intervals throughout childhood to instruct them on diets that were low in saturated fat and cholesterol.

Children in the intervention group consumed diets lower in saturated fat than controls. At age 14, intervention children had significantly decreased serum cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein levels compared to controls. Height, weight, body mass index, age at menarche and pubertal development did not differ between groups.

"A low-saturated fat, low-cholesterol-oriented nutrition intervention had a favorable effect on saturated fat intake and serum total and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol concentrations throughout the first 14 years of life," the authors conclude. "The lipid-lowering effect was maintained through prepuberty and puberty, when children consume exceedingly more of their dietary intakes away from home."

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