The dietary intake of Australian preschoolers may lead to poor long term health outcomes according to research published in the June 18 issue of the Medical Journal of Australia. Dr Shao Zhou and Professor Maria Makrides, from the Women’s and Children’s Health Research Institute in Adelaide and coauthors aimed to find out if the diet eaten by young Adelaide children is short on key nutrients.
They concluded that dietary intakes among the 300 children who participated were adequate in macronutrients (like energy, protein and carbohydrate) and in most micronutrients (like iron, zinc and calcium).
However, the authors found that the children were not getting enough fibre or omega 3 fatty acids and they ate too much saturated fat, a dietary pattern that they said is associated with health problems in adults.
“Our study reveals that Australian children aged 1-5 years are following a dietary pattern that may be associated with adverse long-term cardiovascular health and chronic disease”, they wrote.
“These observations suggest that there is a need for increased attention on establishing healthy eating patterns in early childhood, as dietary patterns established early in life often carry through to adulthood”.
The researchers also noted the increasing recognition that the current recommendation for omega 6 fatty acid intake may be too high, and may be responsible for the decline in omega 3 status in Western countries. They said this warranted further research.
The researchers also found that 14% of the children studied were obese – but they found no association between BMI and energy intake.
“These data suggest that in this age group physical activity may be a main determinant of weight and BMI status”, the authors wrote.
Source :The Medical Journal of Australia