Fatty acid composition in blood reflects quality of dietary carbohydrates in children

Recently published research in the University of Eastern Finland found that fatty acid composition in blood is not only a biomarker for the quality of dietary fat but also reflects the quality of dietary carbohydrates. For example the proportion of oleic acid was higher among children who consumed a lot of candy and little high-fibre grain products. Earlier studies on the topic have mainly concentrated on the association of the quality of dietary fat with fatty acid composition in blood. In the present study, the association of the quality of dietary carbohydrates with plasma fatty acid composition was investigated for the first time in children.A higher consumption of candy and a lower consumption of high-fibre grain products were associated with a higher proportion of oleic acid in blood. One explanation for this finding may be that children who consumed more candy and less high-fibre grain products also consumed more foods rich in saturated fat. Saturated fat, that is known to be harmful to health, has previously been shown to correlate positively with oleic acid intake in Western diet not favoring olive oil.A higher consumption of candy was associated with a higher estimated delta-9 desaturase that indicates the activity of delta-9-desaturase in liver. A higher intake of carbohydrates has previously been shown to be associated with a higher activity of delta-9-desaturase in adults but the studies on this topic are lacking in children. The delta-9-desaturase is an enzyme that catalyzes the reactions of producing monounsaturated fatty acids from saturated fatty acids. Thus, it prevents the accumulation of saturated fatty acids in the liver but at the same time it promotes the excretion of fatty acids to the blood stream. The increase in delta-9-desaturase activity may be related to an increased production of saturated fatty acids from sugar in the liver that is harmful for lipid metabolism.A higher consumption of vegetable oil-based margarine containing at least 60 percent fat was associated with higher proportions of polyunsaturated fatty acids, linoleic acid and alfa-linolenic fatty acid in blood that is in line with the results of the previous studies in adults and children. …

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Consuming a high-quality diet is associated with lower risk of pancreatic cancer

Aug. 15, 2013 — People who reported dietary intake that was most consistent with the 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans had lower risk of pancreatic cancer, according to a new study published August 15 in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.Previous studies investigating the relationship between food and nutrient intake and pancreatic cancer have yielded inconsistent results. The U.S. Government issues evidence-based dietary guidelines that provide the basis for federal nutrition policy and education activities to promote overall health for Americans. The authors evaluated how closely study participants’ diets matched the 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, as measured by the Healthy Eating Index (HEI-2005), and then compared their risk of pancreatic cancer.Hannah Arem, Ph.D.,, from the Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, MD, and colleagues calculated HEI-2005 scores for 537,218 participants in the NIH-AARP Diet and Health Study (ages 50-71 years), based on responses to food frequency questionnaires. Pancreatic cancer risk was then compared between those with high and low HEI-2005 scores, accounting for the influence of other known pancreatic cancer risk factors.Among the study participants there were 2,383 new cases of pancreatic cancer. Overall, the investigators observed a 15% lower risk of pancreatic cancer among participants with the highest HEI-2005 score compared to those with the lowest HEI-2005 score. This association was stronger among overweight or obese men compared to men of normal weight, but there was no difference for normal vs. overweight or obese women. While the authors adjusted for known risk factors such as smoking and diabetes status, they caution that other health factors not collected in the questionnaires may be associated with a more healthful diet and might explain some of the observed reduced risk. …

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Phthalates — chemicals widely found in plastics and processed food — linked to elevated blood pressure in children and teens

May 22, 2013 — Plastic additives known as phthalates (pronounced THAL-ates) are odorless, colorless and just about everywhere: They turn up in flooring, plastic cups, beach balls, plastic wrap, intravenous tubing and — according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — the bodies of most Americans. Once perceived as harmless, phthalates have come under increasing scrutiny. A growing collection of evidence suggests dietary exposure to phthalates (which can leech from packaging and mix with food) may cause significant metabolic and hormonal abnormalities, especially during early development.

Now, new research published this Wednesday in The Journal of Pediatrics suggests that certain types of phthalates could pose another risk to children: compromised heart health. Drawing on data from a nationally representative survey of nearly 3,000 children and teens, researchers at NYU Langone Medical Center, in collaboration with researchers at the University of Washington and Penn State University School of Medicine, have documented for the first time a connection between dietary exposure to DEHP (di-2-ethyhexylphthalate), a common class of phthalate widely used in industrial food production, and elevated systolic blood pressure, a measure of pressure in the arteries when the heart contracts.

“Phthalates can inhibit the function of cardiac cells and cause oxidative stress that compromises the health of arteries. But no one has explored the relationship between phthalate exposure and heart health in children” says lead author Leonardo Trasande, MD, MPP, associate professor of pediatrics, environmental medicine and population health at NYU Langone Medical Center. “We wanted to examine the link between phthalates and childhood blood pressure in particular given the increase in elevated blood pressure in children and the increasing evidence implicating exposure to environmental exposures in early development of disease.”

Hypertension is clinically defined as a systolic blood-pressure reading above 140 mm Hg. It’s most common in people over 50 years old, although the condition is becoming increasingly prevalent among children owing to the global obesity epidemic. Recent national surveys indicate that 14 percent of American adolescents now have pre-hypertension or hypertension. “Obesity is driving the trend but our findings suggest that environmental factors may also be a part of the problem,” says Dr. Trasande. “This is important because phthalate exposure can be controlled through regulatory and behavioral interventions.”

Researchers from NYU School of Medicine, the University of Washington and Penn State University School of Medicine examined six years of data from a nationally representative survey of the U.S. population administered by the National Centers for Health Statistics of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Phthalates were measured in urine samples using standard analysis techniques. Controlling for a number of potential confounders, including race, socioeconomic status, body mass index, caloric intake and activity levels, the researchers found that every three-fold increase in the level of breakdown products of DEHP in urine correlated with a roughly one-millimeter mercury increase in a child’s blood pressure. “That increment may seem very modest at an individual level, but on a population level such shifts in blood pressure can increase the number of children with elevated blood pressure substantially,” says Dr. Trasande. “Our study underscores the need for policy initiatives that limit exposure to disruptive environmental chemicals, in combination with dietary and behavioral interventions geared toward protecting cardiovascular health.”

This research was made possible through the generous support of KiDs of NYU Langone, an organization of parents, physicians, and friends that supports children’s health services at New York University Langone Medical Center through philanthropy, community service, and advocacy.

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