Studies in adults indicate that a lower saturated and higher unsaturated fat intake is associated with a lower risk of metabolic syndrome and cardiovascular diseases. However, studies on fat intake in relation to cardiometabolic health during childhood are scarce.
We examined associations between dietary intake of fatty acids (FAs) at age 1 y and measures of growth, adiposity, and cardiometabolic health up to age 6 y.
This study was conducted in 2927 children participating in the Generation R Study, a multiethnic, prospective, population-based cohort in the Netherlands. We measured children's total fat intake and intakes of saturated FAs (SFAs), monounsaturated FAs (MUFAs), and polyunsaturated FAs (PUFAs) at a median age of 12.9 mo (95% range: 12.2, 18.9 mo) with a food-frequency questionnaire. We repeatedly measured their height and weight up to age 6 y. At 6 y of age, we measured body fat percentage, diastolic and systolic blood pressure, and serum insulin, triacylglycerol, and HDL cholesterol. These outcomes were combined into a cardiometabolic risk factor score. We examined associations of FA intake with repeated measures of height, weight, and body mass index by using linear mixed models and with cardiometabolic outcomes by using linear regression models, adjusting for sociodemographic and lifestyle factors and taking into account macronutrient substitution effects.
In multivariable models, we observed no associations of a higher intake of total fat or SFAs, MUFAs, or PUFAs with growth, adiposity, or cardiometabolic health when fat was consumed at the expense of carbohydrates. In subsequent models, there were also no associations observed for higher MUFA or PUFA intakes at the expense of SFAs with any of the outcomes. Results did not differ by sex, ethnicity, age, or birth weight.
The results of this study did not support our hypothesis that intake of different types of FAs was associated with adiposity or cardiometabolic health among children.