Nutrition Lay Summaries

2014

Eating an unhealthy breakfast increases adolescents’ risk of metabolic disease

Keywords: metabolic syndrome, blood sugar, adolescent, breakfast

What is already known about this subject:

  • Metabolic syndrome is a cluster of metabolic disturbances that increases the risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
  • Many lifelong eating habits begin in adolescence, and establishing healthy eating patterns during this time helps to minimise the risk of metabolic syndrome.
  • Glycemic load is a useful way to measure the impact a food (or drink) has on blood sugar levels. Studies looking for relationships between average daily glycemic load and health outcomes have had varied results, possibly because this method ignores the peaks in blood sugar that occur with meals and snacks.
  • Tracking glycemic load across the day may be a more useful way to measure the effects of diet on health outcomes and disease risk.

What this Raine study adds:

  • Food diaries and blood samples collected from Raine participants at the 14 years of age revealed an association between higher breakfast glycemic load and metabolic syndrome in girls, but not in boys.
  • Higher breakfast glycemic load was also significantly associated with two specific markers of metabolic syndrome in blood tests.
  • Helping adolescents to develop healthy eating habits, including eating a low glycemic load breakfast, may reduce their risk of diseases such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

Nicholl, A., et al. (2014). “Higher breakfast glycaemic load is associated with increased metabolic syndrome risk, including lower HDL-cholesterol concentrations and increased TAG concentrations, in adolescent girls.” British Journal of Nutrition 112(12): 1974-1983. [publink]

Breastfeeding protects against obesity from childhood to young adulthood

Keywords: body fat, breastfeeding, formula feeding, obesity, risk factors

What is already known about this subject:

  • Overweight infants are more likely to become overweight children, adolescents and adults.
  • Research suggests that breastfeeding protects against overweight and obesity, and that formula feeding may increase the risk.

What this Raine study adds:

  • Breastfeeding and weight data from Raine participants from birth to 20 years of age revealed that introducing milk other than breast milk before six months may lead to an increased risk of obesity 20 years later.
  • Stopping breastfeeding before six months may lead to an increased risk of overweight and obesity later in life.
  • Increasing the prevalence of exclusive breastfeeding to 6 months would be a worthwhile public health measure.

Oddy, W. H., et al. (2014). “Early infant feeding and adiposity risk: from infancy to adulthood.” Annals of Nutrition and Metabolism 64(3-4): 262-270. [publink]

Dairy foods do not increase obesity risk in Australian adolescents

Keywords: adolescent, dairy, obesity, diet

What is already known about this subject:

  • Consumption of milk and dairy products often decreases around adolescence, possible in response to concerns about weight gain.
  • Dairy products are a good source of energy and nutrients, so decreasing dairy intake can also reduce diet quality.
  • Diet quality is an important factor in obesity risk, although it is still unclear how dairy intake relates to obesity in Australian adolescents.

What this Raine study adds:

  • Dietary records and weight information from Raine participants at 14 years of age revealed that higher intake of dairy foods was not associated with increased risk of obesity.
  • Higher milk and dairy food consumption was associated with better diet quality.
  • Dairy consumption plays an important role in adolescent health and should be encouraged as part of a healthy diet.

O’Sullivan, T. A., et al. (2015). “Dairy product consumption, dietary nutrient and energy density and associations with obesity in Australian adolescents.” J Hum Nutr Diet. Oct;28(5):452-64. [publink]

Lower fructose intake in obese teenagers reduces the risk of fatty liver disease

Keywords: adolescent, diet, fatty liver, fructose, obesity

What is already known about this subject:

  • Adolescents who are obese are at high risk of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, a condition (unrelated to alcohol intake) in which fat builds up in the liver and can lead to permanent liver injury.
  • While obesity is a major risk factor for fatty liver disease, it is not the only cause. Diet may also be an important contributor.
  • Fructose intake may be important in the development of fatty liver disease, but its role is not yet fully understood.

What this Raine study adds:

  • Body mass and food diary data at 14 years of age and abdominal ultrasounds at 17 years of age in Raine participants revealed that half of the adolescents with obesity also had fatty liver disease.
  • Fructose intake was lower in those adolescents who were obese but did not have fatty liver disease.
  • A lower fructose diet may help to protect adolescents with obesity from fatty liver disease.

OʼSullivan, Therese A, Wendy H Oddy, Alexandra P Bremner, Jill L Sherriff, Oyekoya T Ayonrinde, John K Olynyk, Lawrence J Beilin, Trevor A Mori, and Leon A Adams. 2014. “Lower Fructose Intake May Help Protect against Development of Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver in Adolescents with Obesity.” Journal of Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition 58 (5) (May): 624-31. doi:10.1097/MPG.0000000000000267. [publink]

Food frequency questionnaires accurately describe adolescent dietary patterns

Keywords: diet, nutrition assessment, adolescent, dietary patterns

What is already known about this subject:

  • Diet plays an important role in determining an individual’s health and risk of disease.
  • When looking for relationships between diet and health-related outcomes, it may be more useful to consider the overall diet than individual foods or nutrients.
  • Different collection methods are used to assess dietary intake; some provide less detailed information than others but are easier to administer. It is not known whether different methods of dietary assessment are able to identify the same overall dietary patterns in adolescents.

What this Raine study adds:

  • Dietary patterns identified from food frequency questionnaires and 3-day food diaries collected from Raine participants at 14 years of age found that the different methods of collection of dietary information yielded consistent information.
  • Food frequency questionnaires are useful in studying relationships between dietary patterns and health outcomes in Australian adolescents.

Appannah, G., Pot, G. K., O’Sullivan, T. A., Oddy, W. H., Jebb, S. A., & Ambrosini, G. L. (2014). The reliability of an adolescent dietary pattern identified using reduced-rank regression: comparison of a FFQ and 3 d food record. The British Journal of Nutrition, 112(4), 609-15. doi:10.1017/S0007114514001111. [publink]

Nutritional supplements improve nutrient intake in teenagers

Keywords: adolescents, food intake, micronutrients, dietary supplements

What is already known about this subject:

  • Good nutrition is essential for good health; however teenagers often have low nutrient intake and may have insufficient levels of calcium, folate, magnesium and potassium in their diet.
  • Nutritional supplements are popular in adolescents, however it is not known if supplements can overcome dietary deficiencies in Australian teenagers.

What this Raine study adds:

  • Nutrient intake from food and supplements calculated from dietary assessments in Raine participants at 17 years of age showed that teenagers consumed less than the recommended amount of calcium, magnesium, folate, vitamin D and vitamin E.
  • Supplement use increased nutrient intake, but many supplement users still consumed less than the recommended amount of some nutrients.
  • Supplement users had higher nutrient intake from food than those who did not use supplements, meaning that supplements were less likely to be consumed by those who would benefit from them the most.
  • Good nutrition is essential for healthy development, particularly during adolescence. Supplements can be a useful complement to a healthy diet, but cannot compensate for a poor diet.

Gallagher, C. M., Black, L. J., & Oddy, W. H. (2014). Micronutrient intakes from food and supplements in Australian adolescents. Nutrients, 6(1), 342-54. doi:10.3390/nu6010342. [publink]

Low magnesium intake is associated with behavioural problems in adolescents

Keywords: magnesium, zinc, dietary intake, mental health, adolescent

What is already known about this subject:

  • The minerals zinc and magnesium are essential for nervous system function.
  • Most people get enough zinc and magnesium by eating a varied and balanced diet.
  • There is a small amount of evidence to support the use of zinc and magnesium supplements in the treatment of childhood attention problems.
  • Studies in adults have shown that adequate intake of zinc and magnesium may be helpful in the prevention and treatment of mental health problems such as depression and anxiety, however it is not known if this is also true in adolescents.

What this Raine study adds:

  • Dietary assessment and mental health data in Raine participants at 14 and 17 years of age revealed that higher dietary intake of magnesium was associated with less adolescent externalising behavioural problems, including attention problems, rule-breaking behaviours and aggressive behaviours.
  • No relationship was found between zinc or magnesium intake on internalising behaviour problems (including social withdrawal, anxiety and depression) in adolescents.
  • Promoting the consumption of magnesium-rich foods may be a useful way to prevent mental health and behavioural problems in adolescents.

Black LJ, Allen KL, Jacoby P, Trapp GS, Gallagher CM, Byrne SM, Oddy WH. (2014). “Low dietary intake of magnesium is associated with increased externalising behaviours in adolescents.” Public Health Nutr: 1-7. [publink]

Poor diet is associated with worse cognitive performance in adolescents

Keywords: nutrition, adolescent, cognition, diet

What is already known about this subject:

  • Dietary pattern analysis can provide useful information about a person’s diet, and can be more informative than simply looking at individual nutrients.
  • Good nutrition during early childhood is essential for cognitive development.
  • Adolescence is also an important time for brain development, but little is known about the influence of nutrition on cognitive development during this period.

What this Raine study adds:

  • Dietary pattern analysis at 14 years of age and cognitive testing at 17 years of age in Raine participants revealed that a ‘Western’ dietary pattern (high in take-away foods, red and processed meat, soft drink and fried and refined foods) was associated with poorer cognition in adolescents.
  • In particular, high intakes of fried potato, crisps and red meat were associated with worse cognitive performance, whereas increased intake of fruit and leafy green vegetable was associated with better cognitive performance.
  • Health programs or interventions targeted at making healthy food choices are particularly important in teenagers.

Nyaradi, Anett, Jonathan K Foster, Siobhan Hickling, Jianghong Li, Gina L Ambrosini, Angela Jacques, and Wendy H Oddy. 2014. “Prospective Associations between Dietary Patterns and Cognitive Performance during Adolescence.” Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, and Allied Disciplines 55 (9) (September): 1017-24. doi:10.1111/jcpp.12209. [publink]

Energy drinks affect mental health in young adults

Keywords: anxiety, depression, energy drinks, stress

What is already known about this subject:

  • Marketing of energy drinks is primarily targeted at young adults.
  • Energy drink consumption is associated with risky behaviour, including drug and alcohol abuse, cigarette smoking, aggression and risky sexual behaviour.
  • Little is known about the effects of energy drink consumption on the psychological health of young adults.

What this Raine study adds:

  • Assessments of energy drink consumption and mental health in Raine participants at the 20-year follow-up revealed that young men who consumed more energy drinks had more problems with anxiety.
  • Energy drink consumption was not associated with depression or stress.
  • Energy drinks may contribute to the development of mental health problems in young adults. Young people may need more education on the possible harms associated with the use of energy drinks.

Trapp, Georgina S A, Karina Allen, Therese A O’Sullivan, Monique Robinson, Peter Jacoby, and Wendy H Oddy. 2014. “Energy Drink Consumption Is Associated with Anxiety in Australian Young Adult Males.” Depression and Anxiety 31 (5) (May): 420-8. doi:10.1002/da.22175. [publink]

Consumption of energy drinks is associated with drug and alcohol use in young adults

Keywords: young adult, alcohol, drug abuse, energy drinks

What is already known about this subject:

  • Energy drinks are popular among young people, and are often consumed with alcohol.
  • Energy drinks contain very high levels of caffeine and may have serious health effects including heart problems, liver damage, kidney failure, seizures, tremors, psychosis and chest pain.
  • It is known that energy drink users are more likely to engage in risky behaviour, but it is not yet clear how energy drink use relates to the development of problems with substance abuse. It is also unclear what the prevalence of energy drink use is in young adult Australians.

What this Raine study adds:

  • Assessment of energy drink consumption in Raine participants at the 20-year follow-up revealed that nearly half (48%) consumed energy drinks once a month or more. Those who used energy drinks consumed on average just over one can per day.
  • Energy drink users were more likely to be male and to be employed (full-time or part-time). They were also more likely to use alcohol more heavily, smoke cigarettes and to use ecstasy.
  • Energy drink use is associated with alcohol and drug use, and more research is needed to determine whether energy drinks are simply a marker of co-occurring risky behaviours or a step in a pathway to the development of substance abuse problems.

Trapp, Georgina S A, Karina L Allen, Therese O’Sullivan, Monique Robinson, Peter Jacoby, and Wendy H Oddy. 2014. “Energy Drink Consumption among Young Australian Adults: Associations with Alcohol and Illicit Drug Use.” Drug and Alcohol Dependence 134 (January 1): 30-7. doi:10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2013.09.006. [publink]

2013

Sugary drinks affect cardiometabolic health in adolescents

Keywords: adolescent, cardiovascular disease, dietary sugar intake, metabolism, obesity

What is already known about this subject:

  • Consumption of sugar-sweetened drinks (eg. soft drinks and fruit drinks with added sugar) is a known risk factor for heart disease and other health problems in adults.
  • Australian children and adolescents are high consumers of sugary drinks.
  • A high consumption of sugary drinks increases obesity risk in young people, but less is known about the impact of sugary drinks on other areas of adolescent health.

What this Raine study adds:

  • Adolescents from the Raine study (at 14 and 17 years of age) consuming more than 1.3 cups per day of sugar-sweetened drinks were more likely to be overweight or obese. They also had a greater risk of diabetes and heart disease, even if they were not overweight.
  • 55% of all sugary drinks were consumed at home, and low-income families drank more sugary drinks and had a higher risk of obesity.
  • Greater intakes of sugary drinks may put young people on a path to the early development of diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

Ambrosini, Gina Leslie, Wendy Hazel Oddy, Rae Chi Huang, Trevor Anthony Mori, Lawrence Joseph Beilin, and Susan Ann Jebb. 2013. “Prospective Associations between Sugar-Sweetened Beverage Intakes and Cardiometabolic Risk Factors in Adolescents.” The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 98 (2): 327-34. doi:10.3945/ajcn.112.051383. [publink]

Diet quality is an important contributor to brain function in children

Keywords: children, cognitive development, diet quality, nutrition

What is already known about this subject:

  • Good nutrition and a healthy diet are essential for optimal brain function.
  • Studies have traditionally looked at the importance of individual nutrients in health and disease, but it is becoming increasingly clear that examining the diet as a whole gives the most accurate picture.
  • This study reviews the evidence for a relationship between diet quality and cognitive development in children and adolescents.

What this Raine study adds:

  • Reviewing the current evidence for links between diet/nutrition and children’s cognitive development, the authors found that while there is consistent evidence for the role of different nutrients in cognitive development, that nutrients do not act alone, making overall diet quality an essential consideration.
  • Nutrients are not consumed in isolation, and may have different effects when consumed together or in certain combinations. A poor overall diet can also cause multiple nutrient deficiencies and imbalances.
  • Health interventions should focus on diet quality rather than isolated nutrients or dietary components.

Nyaradi, A., Li, J., Hickling, S., Foster, J., & Oddy, W. H. (2013). The role of nutrition in children’s neurocognitive development, from pregnancy through childhood. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 7(March), 97. doi:10.3389/fnhum.2013.00097. [publink]

A high quality diet in early childhood improves cognitive development

Keywords: children, cognition, diet, nutrition, development

What is already known about this subject:

  • During early childhood, important cognitive skills including problem solving, remembering and decision-making are developed.
  • Nutrition plays an important role in cognitive development, but most research has focused on individual nutrients (such as vitamin B12, iron, iodine and omega-3 fatty acids). Little is known about how a child’s overall diet affects their cognitive development.

What this Raine study adds:

  • Data from dietary assessments at 1, 2 and 3 years of age and measures of verbal and non-verbal cognitive abilities at 10 years of age revealed that children with better diet quality in the first 3 years of life had higher verbal and non-verbal abilities at ten years of age.
  • Consumption of fruit and dairy had positive effects on cognitive development, and consumption of soft drinks had a negative effect.
  • Having a diet rich in nutrients is important for a child’s intellectual development, and good nutrition during the early years of life may help a child to reach their developmental potential.

Nyaradi, Anett, Jianghong Li, Siobhan Hickling, Andrew J O Whitehouse, Jonathan K Foster, and Wendy H Oddy. 2013. “Diet in the Early Years of Life Influences Cognitive Outcomes at 10 Years: A Prospective Cohort Study.” Acta Paediatrica (Oslo, Norway : 1992) 102 (12) (December): 1165-73. doi:10.1111/apa.12363. [publink]

A ‘Western’ diet is a risk factor for fatty liver disease in adolescents

Keywords: biological markers, body mass index, fatty liver disease, obesity, risk factors, sedentary lifestyle, diet

What is already known about this subject:

  • Obesity and poor dietary habits are risk factors for non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, a condition in which fat builds up in the liver (and is unrelated to alcohol intake) and can cause liver damage.
  • The ‘Western’ diet is characterised by consumption of high levels of fat and sugar and processed foods. A healthy diet is low in saturated fat, total fat and refined sugar.
  • A high consumption of soft drinks and meat (the main components of a ‘Western’ dietary pattern) is a risk factor for the development of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease in adults; but it is not known how specific dietary patterns relate to its onset in children and adolescents.

What this Raine study adds:

  •  Data from Food Frequency Questionnaires completed by Raine participants at 14 years of age, together with height, weight and waist circumference measurements at 14 and 17 years of age, and liver ultrasound and blood tests at 17 years of age showed that a ‘Western’ style diet increased the risk of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.
  • In adolescents with central obesity (excess fat around the abdomen and stomach), a healthy diet reduced the risk of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, whereas a ‘Western’ dietary pattern increased the risk.
  • The relationship between the ‘Western’ dietary pattern and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease appears to be acting via obesity, suggesting that efforts to reduce obesity during childhood and adolescence may be important in preventing non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.

Oddy, Wendy H, Carly E Herbison, Peter Jacoby, Gina L Ambrosini, Therese A O’Sullivan, Oyekoya T Ayonrinde, John K Olynyk, Lucinda Black, Lawire Beilin, Trevor Mori, Beth Hands, Leon Adams. 2013. “The Western Dietary Pattern Is Prospectively Associated with Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease in Adolescence.” The American Journal of Gastroenterology 108 (5) (May): 778-85. doi:10.1038/ajg.2013.95. [publink]

Soft drinks are the greatest source of dietary fructose for West Australian adolescents

Keywords: adolescent, dietary intake, food sources, fructose

What is already known about this subject:

  • Fructose is a sugar common in the Australian diet, it is found in table sugar, occurs naturally in fruit and is commonly added to food and drinks during the manufacturing process.
  • Unlike other sugars, fructose is metabolised solely in the liver, and is associated with a number of health issues including fatty liver disease, high cholesterol and obesity.
  • Adolescence is a time of significant physical growth, and during this time many dietary habits are established which will remain into adulthood.
  • It is known that Australian diets are high in fructose, but the actual amount consumed has not been measured. To formulate effective and appropriate guidelines for fructose consumption it is important to understand how much fructose is consumed and which foods and drinks it comes from.

What this Raine study adds:

  •  Food diaries collected from Raine participants at the 14-year follow-up (together with height and weight from physical assessments and questionnaire data from the participants and their parents or caregivers) revealed that fructose contributed 9% of adolescents’ total energy intake.
  • Over a quarter of fructose in Raine adolescents’ diets came from soft drinks, cordial and sweetened fruit drinks. Fruit, confectionery and unsweetened fruit juice were also major contributors to fructose intake. The biggest sole contributor to fructose intake was soft drinks.
  • There was no link between fructose intake and level of physical activity, weight or socioeconomic status. Adolescents from a higher socioeconomic status tended to consume more fructose from fruit, whereas those from lower socioeconomic backgrounds consumed more fructose from beverages.
  • A lower consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages, in particular soft drinks, would be an effective strategy to decrease fructose intake in adolescents.

Woolley, Susan E., Jill Sherriff, Wendy H. Oddy, and Therese A. O’ Sullivan. 2013. “Fructose Intake and Food Sources in West Australian Adolescents.” Nutrition & Dietetics 70 (2) (June 14): 139-145. doi:10.1111/1747-0080.12006. [publink]

2012

Polyunsaturated fatty acids can decrease blood pressure in adolescent boys

Keywords: adolescent, blood pressure, dietary fats, physiology, polyunsaturated fatty acids, gender differences

What is already known about this subject:

  • High blood pressure is an important risk factor for many conditions, including stroke, heart attack, heart failure and kidney disease.
  • Consumption of polyunsaturated fatty acids can have a positive influence on health, and can help to reduce blood pressure in adults with high blood pressure.
  • Even short periods of high blood pressure in young people can increase the risk of associated diseases in adulthood. It is not known if fatty acid intake in young people can help maintain a healthy blood pressure.

What this Raine study adds:

  • Measures of blood pressure and dietary fatty acid intake in Raine participants at 14 years of age showed that fat contributed 32% of adolescents’ total energy intake, and that fatty acid intake did not differ between boys and girls.
  • Higher consumption of dietary fatty acids was associated with decreased blood pressure in adolescent boys. This was not the case in adolescent girls, and may reflect hormonal differences.
  • Increased intake of dietary fatty acids during adolescence may improve health outcomes in later life.

O’Sullivan, T. A., Bremner, A. P., Beilin, L. J., Ambrosini, G. L., Mori, T. A., Huang, R. C., & Oddy, W. H. (2012). Polyunsaturated fatty acid intake and blood pressure in adolescents. Journal of Human Hypertension, 26(3), 178-87. doi:10.1038/jhh.2011.7. [publink]

Breast feeding has a positive influence on the variety of foods consumed by toddlers

Keywords: food variety, nutrition, breastfeeding, toddlers

What is already known about this subject:

  • Good nutrition relies upon eating a wide variety of nutritious foods.
  • Infants are born with a preference for sweet tastes and a dislike for sour and bitter tastes. Exposure to new foods and flavours helps a child to develop new flavour preferences and shapes their eating habits into later life.
  • Food flavours can be transferred in breast milk, and it is thought that this early and repeated exposure may help a toddler to accept a wider variety of foods once they start eating solids.

What this Raine study adds:

  • Intake of healthy foods including dairy, grains, vegetables, fruits, and meat/meat substitutes from dietary assessments at 2 years of age, together with breastfeeding data in Raine participants demonstrated a modest association between breastfeeding duration and food variety in 2 year old children.
  • The associations between toddler food variety and duration of breastfeeding were not due to the influence of factors already known to contribute to toddler food variety (maternal age, maternal education, having older siblings).
  • Breastfeeding has a positive influence on diet variety and diet quality in children.

Scott, Jane A., Tsz Ying Chih, and Wendy H. Oddy. 2012. Food Variety at 2 Years of Age Is Related to Duration of Breastfeeding. Nutrients 4: 1464-1474. doi:10.3390/nu4101464. [publink]

Early diet quality is not a primary contributor to adolescent obesity

Keywords: children, diet quality, obesity

What is already known about this subject:

  •  Over 25% of children from developed countries are overweight or obese, and these numbers are rising.
  • Obesity has significant health consequences, and reducing the burden of obesity on the health system is a major public health priority. It is still not clear how best to approach the prevention and treatment of childhood obesity, mostly because the factors that cause it are not completely understood.
  • It is becoming increasingly clear that obesity begins very early in life, and early rapid weight gain is important. Despite this, it is still not known how the quality of a child’s diet very early in life affects their risk of developing obesity.

What this Raine study adds:

  • Dietary assessments data from Raine participants as toddlers and at 14 years of age, together with height and weight data from birth to 17 years of age demonstrated that early life diet quality was an important determinant of adolescent diet, but was not related to adolescent body mass index.
  • Birth weight and early growth were more important in determining adolescent body mass index than early diet and nutrition.
  • Maternal education programs directed at optimising children’s diet quality are likely to have positive effects on childhood and adolescent nutrition, but interventions focusing on the minimization of early weight gain may have a greater impact on obesity prevention.

Meyerkort, C. E., Oddy, W. H., O’Sullivan, T. A., Henderson, J., & Pennell, C. E. (2012). Early diet quality in a longitudinal study of Australian children: associations with nutrition and body mass index later in childhood and adolescence. Journal of Developmental Origins of Health and Disease, 3, 21-31. doi:10.1017/S2040174411000717. [publink]

Dairy food consumption and nutrient intake from dairy foods decreases with age in Australian adolescents

Keywords: adolescent, dairy, dietary intake, nutrition

What is already known about this subject:

  • Dairy products are recommended as part of a healthy diet in childhood, adolescence and adulthood and are an important source of nutrients.
  • Adolescence is a period of rapid growth and development, and is a critical time for bone growth. Nutrients found in dairy foods are particularly important during this time.
  • Many adolescents begin to make their own food and drink choices at the same time as their bodies need extra nutrients for growth. While it has been reported that dairy consumption is low in Australian adolescents, little is known about how dairy food consumption and nutrient intake from dairy foods changes over time in Australian adolescents.

What this Raine study adds:

  • Dietary assessments in Raine participants revealed that both boys and girls decreased their dairy intake between 14 and 17 years of age, and this was associated with decreases in nutrient intake (calcium, potassium, riboflavin, vitamin A).
  • Most adolescents did not consume the recommended amount of calcium or magnesium, and this worsened as they got older.
  • Adolescent health promotion messages are needed that emphasise the importance of dairy and calcium-rich foods as part of a healthy diet.

Parker, C. E., Vivian WJ, Oddy WH, Beilin LJ, Mori TA, O’Sullivan (2012).  “Changes in dairy food and nutrient intakes in Australian adolescents.” Nutrients 4(12): 1794-1811.  [publink]

2011

Adolescents who have a healthier diet have higher omega-3 levels

Keywords: adolescent, blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, metabolism, fatty acids, risk factors, diet

What is already known about this subject:

  • Omega-3 fatty acids are essential nutrients for health, and are found in fish, vegetable oils and some green vegetables.
  • Omega-3 fatty acids are important in protecting against heart disease.
  • Diet and lifestyle factors affect omega-3 levels in adults, and low omega-3 levels are associated with an increased risk of heart disease. It is not known if this is also true in adolescents.

What this Raine study adds:

  • Dietary assessments and analysis of blood samples from Raine participants at 14 years of age revealed that 16% of Raine adolescents had sufficiently low omega-3 levels to be considered at ‘high risk’ of heart disease.
  • Diet was an important factor in determining omega-3 levels: adolescents who had a ‘healthy’ eating pattern (high in fish and seafood, wholegrain foods and vegetables) had higher omega-3 levels, whereas adolescents who had a less ‘healthy’ eating pattern (especially in those with a high intake of soft drinks and crisps) had lower omega-3 levels.
  • High omega-3 levels reduced the risk of heart disease in boys.
  • Omega-3 levels are useful predictors of future heart disease risk in adolescents, and the association between omega-3 levels and heart disease is worth investigating further.

O’Sullivan, Therese A, Gina L Ambrosini, Trevor A Mori, Lawrie J Beilin, and Wendy H Oddy. 2011. “Omega-3 Index Correlates with Healthier Food Consumption in Adolescents and with Reduced Cardiovascular Disease Risk Factors in Adolescent Boys.” Lipids 46 (1) (January): 59-67. doi:10.1007/s11745-010-3499-8. [publink]

2010

Dietary carbohydrate intake is associated with metabolic abnormalities in adolescents

Keywords: adolescent, diabetes, dietary carbohydrates, metabolic syndrome, risk factors

What is already known about this subject:

  • Metabolic abnormalities, obesity and high blood pressure are risk factors for the development of type 2 diabetes, and diet is an important contributor to each of these.
  • Eating carbohydrate foods increases blood sugar, according to both the type and amount of carbohydrates the food contains.
  • Having a diet high in carbohydrate foods that lead to sustained high blood sugar is known to increase the risk of type 2 diabetes in adults, but it is not known if this is the case in children and adolescents.

What this Raine study adds:

  • Food diaries, blood tests and physical assessments (including height, weight and waist circumference) in Raine participants at 14 years of age showed that the greatest contributor to adolescent carbohydrate intake and blood sugar levels was bread (particularly white bread) with soft drinks and baked goods such as cakes and biscuits also large contributors.
  • A diet high in blood sugar-raising carbohydrates was associated with a higher risk of metabolic abnormalities.
  • Simple dietary changes such as reducing soft drink intake or replacing white bread with wholegrain could dramatically decrease the risk of metabolic abnormalities in adolescents and reduce their risk of chronic disease.

O’Sullivan, T A, P Lyons-Wall, A P Bremner, G L Ambrosini, R C Huang, L J Beilin, T A Mori, E Blair, and W H Oddy. 2010. “Dietary Glycaemic Carbohydrate in Relation to the Metabolic Syndrome in Adolescents: Comparison of Different Metabolic Syndrome Definitions.” Diabetic Medicine : A Journal of the British Diabetic Association 27 (7) (July): 770-8. doi:10.1111/j.1464-5491.2010.03021.x. [publink]

Diet influences risk of cardiovascular disease in adolescents

Keywords: adolescent, cardiovascular disease, diet, metabolic syndrome, risk factors

What is already known about this subject:

  • Cardiovascular disease has its origins in childhood, and risk factors for cardiovascular disease such as obesity are increasingly common among children and adolescents.
  • The clustering of multiple cardiovascular risk factors in an individual is known as ‘metabolic syndrome.’ Children who are overweight or obese have the highest risk of metabolic syndrome.
  • Diet is an important determinant of a person’s health, but it is not known how specific dietary patterns in childhood and adolescence influence an individual’s risk of developing metabolic syndrome.

What this Raine study adds:

  • Dietary assessment, in combination with physical assessments (height, weight and waist circumference), blood pressure and blood samples in Raine participants at 14 years of age revealed that a ‘Western’ dietary pattern (high in sugar, fat and processed foods) was associated with a greater risk for metabolic syndrome in adolescent girls.
  • A ‘healthy’ dietary pattern (low in fat and refined sugar, high in fruits, vegetables and whole grains) was associated with lower blood sugar in both boys and girls, and with higher ‘good’ cholesterol (HDL) in boys.
  • Dietary patterns are associated with metabolic syndrome and risk of cardiovascular disease during adolescence. Maintaining a healthy diet is a useful way to prevent chronic disease later in life.

Ambrosini, G L, R-C Huang, T A Mori, B P Hands, T A O’Sullivan, N H de Klerk, L J Beilin, and W H Oddy. 2010. “Dietary Patterns and Markers for the Metabolic Syndrome in Australian Adolescents.” Nutrition, Metabolism, and Cardiovascular Diseases 20 (4) (May): 274-83. doi:10.1016/j.numecd.2009.03.024. [publink]

Parker, C. E., Vivian WJ, Oddy WH, Beilin LJ, Mori TA, O’Sullivan TA . (2012). “Changes in dairy food and nutrient intakes in Australian adolescents.” Nutrients 4(12): 1794-1811.