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Effects of school meals with weekly fish servings on vitamin D status in Danish children: secondary outcomes from the OPUS (Optimal well-being, development and health for Danish children through a healthy New Nordic Diet) School Meal Study

  • Rikke A. Petersen (a1), Camilla T. Damsgaard (a1), Stine-Mathilde Dalskov (a1), Louise B. Sørensen (a1), Mads Fiil Hjorth (a1), Rikke Andersen (a2), Inge Tetens (a2), Henrik Krarup (a3), Christian Ritz (a1), Arne Astrup (a1), Kim F. Michaelsen (a1) and Christian Mølgaard (a1)...

Abstract

Children's vitamin D intake and status can be optimised to meet recommendations. We investigated if nutritionally balanced school meals with weekly fish servings affected serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25(OH)D) and markers related to bone in 8- to 11-year-old Danish children. We conducted an explorative secondary outcome analysis on data from 784 children from the OPUS School Meal Study, a cluster-randomised cross-over trial where children received school meals for 3 months and habitual lunch for 3 months. At baseline, and at the end of each dietary period, 25(OH)D, parathyroid hormone (PTH), osteocalcin (OC), insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1), bone mineral content (BMC), bone area (BA), bone mineral density (BMD), dietary intake and physical activity were assessed. School meals increased vitamin D intake by 0·9 (95 % CI 0·7, 1·1) μg/d. No consistent effects were found on 25(OH)D, BMC, BA, BMD, IGF-1 or OC. However, season-modified effects were observed with 25(OH)D, i.e. children completing the school meal period in January/February had higher 25(OH)D status (5·5 (95 % CI 1·8, 9·2) nmol/l; P = 0·004) than children completing the control period in these months. A similar tendency was indicated in November/December (4·1 (95 % CI –0·12, 8·3) nmol/l; P = 0·057). However, the effect was opposite in March/April (–4·0 (95 % CI –7·0, –0·9) nmol/l; P = 0·010), and no difference was found in May/June (P = 0·214). Unexpectedly, the school meals slightly increased PTH (0·18 (95 % CI 0·07, 0·29) pmol/l) compared with habitual lunch. Small increases in dietary vitamin D might hold potential to mitigate the winter nadir in Danish children's 25(OH)D status while higher increases appear necessary to affect status throughout the year. More trials on effects of vitamin D intake from natural foods are needed.

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Copyright

This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution licence (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Corresponding author

* Corresponding author: R. A. Petersen, fax +45 35332483, email rap@life.ku.dk

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