Nav: Home

Study shows that a high protein intake in early childhood is associated with higher body fat mass but not higher lean mass

May 19, 2017

New research presented at this year's European Congress on Obesity (ECO) in Porto, Portugal (17-20) May shows that a high intake of protein in early childhood, particularly from animal food sources, is associated with a higher body mass index (BMI) due to increased body fat and not increases in fat-free mass. The study was conducted by Dr Trudy Voortman and colleagues at the Erasmus University Medical Centre, Rotterdam, the Netherlands.

There is increasing concern about health issues such as childhood obesity and the role which diet in early life can play in controlling body fat levels and managing weight.

Previous studies have suggested that eating a high protein diet during infancy and early childhood leads to a higher BMI but they did not determine whether the extra weight children gained was in the form of lean mass, as has been observed in adults, or whether it led to greater adiposity. There was also a lack of information about the role of other macronutrients such as starches, sugars, and various types of fat, as well as the replacement effects they exhibit.

The authors conducted a population-based cohort study of 3,564 Dutch children whose dietary intake was assessed using food-frequency questionnaires at age 1 year. From that, the researchers calculated intakes of total protein, protein from different sources; of total carbohydrates, polysaccharides, monosaccharides, and disaccharides; and of total, saturated, monounsaturated, and polyunsaturated fat.

Participants had their height and weight repeatedly measured between the ages of 1 and 10 years, while fat (fat mass index - FMI) and fat-free masses (fat-free mass index - FFMI) were assessed using dual x-ray absorptiometry (DXA) scanning at age 6 and 10 years. The data were adjusted to take account of variables such as maternal age and education, child's ethnicity, total energy intake, whether or not the child was breastfed, and physical activity levels.

The study found that a higher intake of both total and animal protein (from dairy and non-dairy sources) was associated with being taller, heavier, and having a higher BMI up to the age of 10. This was true regardless of whether protein was replacing carbohydrates or fats in the diet.

Further analysis discovered that the association between high protein intake and high BMI could be explained entirely by increases in FMI with no increase in FFMI as may be expected in adults. The authors say: "Our results suggest that high protein intake, particularly from animal food sources, in early childhood is associated with higher body fat mass, but not fat-free mass."

They add: "Future studies are needed to examine the optimal range of protein intake and macronutrient composition of the diet for infants and young children and translate these findings into dietary guidelines targeted at this specific age group."
-end-


European Association for the Study of Obesity

Related Obesity Articles:

Obesity is in the eye of the beholder
Doctors have a specific definition of what it means to be overweight or obese, but in the social world, gender, race and generation matter a lot for whether people are judged as 'thin enough' or 'too fat.'
Type 2 diabetes and obesity -- what do we really know?
Social and economic factors have led to a dramatic rise in type 2 diabetes and obesity around the world.
Three in 4 don't know obesity causes cancer
Three out of four (75 percent) people in the UK are unaware of the link between obesity and cancer, according to a new Cancer Research UK report published today.
Obesity on the rise in Indonesia
Obesity is on the rise in Indonesia, one of the largest studies of the double burden of malnutrition in children has revealed.
Obesity rates are not declining in US youth
A clear and significant increase in obesity continued from 1999 through 2014, according to an analysis of data on United States children and adolescents age 2 to 19 years.
How does the environment affect obesity?
Researchers will be examining how agricultural and food processing practices may affect brown fat activity directly or indirectly.
Obesity Day to highlight growing obesity epidemic in Europe
The growing obesity epidemic, which is predicted to affect more than half of all European citizens by 2030, will be the focus of European Obesity Day to be held on May 21.
Understanding obesity from the inside out
Researchers developed a new laboratory method that allowed them to identify GABA as a key player in the complex brain processes that control appetite and metabolism.
Epigenetic switch for obesity
Obesity can sometimes be shut down.
Immunological Aspects of Obesity
This FASEB Conference focuses on the interactions between obesity and immune cells, focusing in particular on how inflammation in various organs influences obesity and obesity-related complications.

Related Obesity Reading:

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Moving Forward
When the life you've built slips out of your grasp, you're often told it's best to move on. But is that true? Instead of forgetting the past, TED speakers describe how we can move forward with it. Guests include writers Nora McInerny and Suleika Jaouad, and human rights advocate Lindy Lou Isonhood.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#527 Honey I CRISPR'd the Kids
This week we're coming to you from Awesome Con in Washington, D.C. There, host Bethany Brookshire led a panel of three amazing guests to talk about the promise and perils of CRISPR, and what happens now that CRISPR babies have (maybe?) been born. Featuring science writer Tina Saey, molecular biologist Anne Simon, and bioethicist Alan Regenberg. A Nobel Prize winner argues banning CRISPR babies won’t work Geneticists push for a 5-year global ban on gene-edited babies A CRISPR spin-off causes unintended typos in DNA News of the first gene-edited babies ignited a firestorm The researcher who created CRISPR twins defends...