Early Dietary Intervention Wards Off Chronic Diseases
October 27, 2011 - News
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CHEVY CHASE, Md.—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, according to a new study published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism.

The study, led by researchers at the Fox Chase Cancer Center, evaluated the long-term effects of a dietary intervention to reduce fat and increase fiber intake during childhood on components of the metabolic syndrome in young adult women.

Researchers evaluated 230 women between the ages of 25 and 29 years, who nine years before the current study participated 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% of daily caloric intake and increase dietary fiber intake by encouraging consumption of fruits, vegetables and whole grains. The current study was conducted among females who had participated in the DISC trial to determine the longer-term effects of the DISC intervention.

Researchers measured body composition of study participants using whole body dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA) scans. Blood pressure was measured using automatic blood pressure monitors and blood samples were analyzed to assess levels of plasma glucose, cholesterol and triglycerides.

“Few participants in our follow-up study met the criteria for metabolic syndrome, however the intervention group had statistically significant lower mean systolic blood pressure and fasting plasma glucose levels compared to the control group," the researchers noted. “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. Longer follow-up studies of DISC participants are needed to determine if the differences found in this study persist or widen with increasing age."

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