(RxWiki News) We all know that eating healthy is better for kids; more fruits, vegetables and fibers, combined with limiting fats and sugars, is better for growing bodies.
But it may also help kids fight diseases well into adulthood. A childhood diet that follows the Western pattern of high saturated fat and refined grains has been linked to later chronic diseases in adulthood.
"Limit kids' intake of fats and refined foods."
Joanne Dorgan, PhD, of Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia was lead author of the study, which evaluated 230 women between 25 and 29 years old. Dr. Dorgan's study was meant to determine the longer-term effects of the DISC intervention on these participants, nine years later.
She and her team measured body composition, blood pressure, and levels of plasma glucose, cholesterol and triglycerides of the women.
All of the women had participated nine years earlier in the Dietary Intervention Study in Children (DISC). DISC was a randomized controlled clinical trial of a reduced-fat dietary intervention that strived to limit fat intake to 28 percent of daily caloric intake and increase dietary fiber intake by encouraging consumption of fruits, vegetables and whole grains.
Very few of them met the criteria for metabolic syndrome, a cluster of abnormalities that include abdominal obesity, low levels of "good" cholesterol, higher levels of triglycerides and blood glucose, and elevated blood pressure. Metabolic syndrome is linked to diets that are high in fat, saturated fatty acids and refined grains.
The women from the DISC also had significantly lower mean blood pressure and glucose levels, compared to a control group who had not participated in a reduced-fat diet as children.
“Significant differences at the follow-up visit, but not earlier, suggest that adolescent diet may have long-term effects on age-related changes in blood pressure and glycemic control that begin to become apparent in young adulthood," Dr. Dorgan said.
“This research is important because it suggests that modest reductions in total fat and saturated fat intake and increased consumption of dietary fiber during childhood and adolescence may have beneficial effects later in life by decreasing risk of chronic diseases such as diabetes and heart disease.”
Findings were published online at the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism in October 2011.