Children between the ages of 6 to 8 years who skip their meals face increased obesity and cardiometabolic risk, claims a new Finnish study.
Ms Aino-Maija Eloranta, MHSc, who presented the results at the University of Eastern Finland, said that a higher consumption of sugary drinks, red meat and low-fat margarine and a lower consumption of vegetable oil were also related to a higher cardiometabolic risk. The more of these factors are present, the higher the risk.
The dietary habits, eating behaviour and dietary determinants of excess body adiposity and cardiometabolic risk were investigated in a population sample of 512 Finnish girls and boys 6 to 8 years of age participating in the Physical Activity and Nutrition in Children (PANIC) Study. Cardiometabolic risk was assessed by a continuous metabolic risk score computed using Z-scores of waist circumference, fasting serum insulin, fasting plasma glucose, triglycerides and high-density lipoprotein cholesterol and the mean of systolic and diastolic blood pressure.
Children who skipped meals and ate more protein were more likely to have excess body fat. Uncontrolled eating behaviour, such as eating fast, emotional overeating and a lower satiety responsiveness were also associated with higher body adiposity.
Ms Eloranta said that sticking to regular meals seemed to be crucial for preventing overweight and cardiometabolic diseases already in childhood. In addition, parents need to provide their children with better dietary choices: regular-fat vegetable-oil margarines and vegetable oils instead of low-fat margarines, fat-free milk and water instead of sugary drinks, and more fish instead of red meat at meals.
The results are published in European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, International Journal of Obesity and European Journal of Nutrition.