To save content items to your account,
please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies.
If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account.
Find out more about saving content to .
To save content items to your Kindle, first ensure email@example.com
is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings
on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part
of your Kindle email address below.
Find out more about saving to your Kindle.
Note you can select to save to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations.
‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be saved to your device when it is connected to wi-fi.
‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.
Adequate vitamin B12 (B12) and folate concentrations are essential for neural development in early childhood, but studies in well-nourished children are lacking. We investigated the relation between plasma B12 and folate at 9 and 36 months and psychomotor development at 36 months in well-nourished Danish children. Subjects from the SKOT cohorts with B12 measurement and completed Ages and Stages Questionnaire, 3rd edition (ASQ-3) at 36 months were included (n 280). Dietary intake, B12 and folate concentrations were collected at 9 and 36 months, and ASQ-3 was assessed at 36 months. Associations between B12 and folate at 9 and 36 months and ASQ-3 were analysed using regression models. Associations between diet and B12 were also investigated. No children had insufficient B12 (<148 pmol/l) at 36 months. B12 at 36 month was positively associated with total ASQ-3 corresponding to an increase of 100 pmol/l B12 per 1·5 increase in total ASQ-3 score (P = 0·019) which remained significant after adjustment for potential confounders including 9 months values. B12 at 9 months or folate at any time point was not associated with total ASQ-3. Intake of milk products was associated with B12 at 36 months (P = 0·003) and showed a trend at 9 months (P = 0·069). Intake of meat products was not associated with B12. In conclusion, B12 was positively related to psychomotor development at 3 years in well-nourished children, indicating that the impact of having marginally low B12 status on psychomotor development in well-nourished children should be examined further.
The study aimed at assessing stunting, wasting and breast-feeding as correlates of body composition in Cambodian children. As part of a nutrition trial (ISRCTN19918531), fat mass (FM) and fat-free mass (FFM) were measured using 2H dilution at 6 and 15 months of age. Of 419 infants enrolled, 98 % were breastfed, 15 % stunted and 4 % wasted at 6 months. At 15 months, 78 % were breastfed, 24 % stunted and 11 % wasted. Those not breastfed had lower FMI at 6 months but not at 15 months. Stunted children had lower FM at 6 months and lower FFM at 6 and 15 months compared with children with length-for-age z ≥0. Stunting was not associated with height-adjusted indexes fat mass index (FMI) or fat-free mass index (FFMI). Wasted children had lower FM, FFM, FMI and FFMI at 6 and 15 months compared with children with weight-for-length z (WLZ) ≥0. Generally, FFM and FFMI deficits increased with age, whereas FM and FMI deficits decreased, reflecting interactions between age and WLZ. For example, the FFM deficits were –0·99 (95 % CI –1·26, –0·72) kg at 6 months and –1·44 (95 % CI –1·69; –1·19) kg at 15 months (interaction, P<0·05), while the FMI deficits were –2·12 (95 % CI –2·53, –1·72) kg/m2 at 6 months and –1·32 (95 % CI –1·77, –0·87) kg/m2 at 15 months (interaction, P<0·05). This indicates that undernourished children preserve body fat at the detriment of fat-free tissue, which may have long-term consequences for health and working capacity.
Early nutrition and growth have been found to be important early exposures for later development. Studies of crude growth in terms of weight and length/height, however, cannot elucidate how body composition (BC) might mediate associations between nutrition and later development. In this study, we aimed to examine the relation between fat mass (FM) or fat-free mass (FFM) tissues at birth and their accretion during early infancy, and later developmental progression. In a birth cohort from Ethiopia, 455 children who have BC measurement at birth and 416 who have standardised rate of BC growth during infancy were followed up for outcome variable, and were included in the statistical analysis. The study sample was restricted to mothers living in Jimma town who gave birth to a term baby with a birth weight ≥1500 g and no evident congenital anomalies. The relationship between the exposure and outcome variables was examined using linear-mixed regression model. The finding revealed that FFM at birth was positively associated with global developmental progression from 1 to 5 years (β=1·75; 95 % CI 0·11, 3·39) and from 4 to 5 years (β=1·34; 95 % CI 0·23, 2·44) in the adjusted model. Furthermore, the rate of postnatal FFM tissue accretion was positively associated with development at 1 year of age (β=0·50; 95 % CI 0·01, 0·99). Neither fetal nor postnatal FM showed a significant association. In conclusion, fetal, rather than postnatal, FFM tissue accretion was associated with developmental progression. Intervention studies are needed to assess whether nutrition interventions increasing FFM also increase cognitive development.
In a longitudinal study including 642 healthy 8–11-year-old Danish children, we investigated associations between vitamin D dependent SNP and serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25(OH)D) concentrations across a school year (August–June). Serum 25(OH)D was measured three times for every child, which approximated measurements in three seasons (autumn, winter, spring). Dietary and supplement intake, physical activity, BMI and parathyroid hormone were likewise measured at each time point. In all, eleven SNP in four vitamin D-related genes: Cytochrome P450 subfamily IIR1 (CYP2R1); 7-dehydrocholesterol reductase/nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide synthetase-1(DHCR7/NADSYN1); group-specific complement (GC); and vitamin D receptor were genotyped. We found minor alleles of CYP2R1 rs10500804, and of GC rs4588 and rs7041 to be associated with lower serum 25(OH)D concentrations across the three seasons (all P<0·01), with estimated 25(OH)D differences of −5·8 to −10·6 nmol/l from major to minor alleles homozygosity. In contrast, minor alleles homozygosity of rs10741657 and rs1562902 in CYP2R1 was associated with higher serum 25(OH)D concentrations compared with major alleles homozygosity (all P<0·001). Interestingly, the association between season and serum 25(OH)D concentrations was modified by GC rs7041 (Pinteraction=0·044), observed as absence of increase in serum 25(OH)D from winter to spring among children with minor alleles homozygous genotypes compared with the two other genotypes of rs7041 (P<0·001). Our results suggest that common genetic variants are associated with lower serum 25(OH)D concentrations across a school year. Potentially due to modified serum 25(OH)D response to UVB sunlight exposure. Further confirmation and paediatric studies investigating vitamin D-related health outcomes of these genotypic differences are needed.
DHA from diet or endogenous synthesis has been proposed to affect infant development, however, results are inconclusive. In this study, we aim to verify previously observed fatty acid desaturase gene cluster (FADS) SNP-specific associations with erythrocyte DHA status in 9-month-old children and sex-specific association with developmental outcomes. The study was performed in 166 children (55 % boys) of obese mothers. Erythrocyte fatty acid composition was analysed in blood-samples obtained at 9 months of age, and developmental outcomes assessed by the Ages and Stages Questionnaire at 3 years. Erythrocyte DHA level ranged from 4·4 to 9·9 % of fatty acids, but did not show any association with FADS SNP or other potential determinants. Regression analysis showed associations between erythrocyte DHA and scores for personal–social skills (β 1·8 (95 % CI 0·3, 3·3), P=0·019) and problem solving (β 3·4 (95 % CI 1·2, 5·6), P=0·003). A tendency was observed for an association in opposite direction between minor alleles (G-variant) of rs1535 and rs174575 and personal–social skills (P=0·062 and 0·068, respectively), which became significant when the SNP were combined based on their previously observed effect on erythrocyte DHA at 9 months of age (β 2·6 (95 % CI 0·01, 5·1), P=0·011). Sex–SNP interaction was indicated for rs174575 genotype on fine motor scores (P=0·016), due to higher scores among minor allele carrying girls (P=0·043), whereas no effect was seen among boys. In conclusion, DHA-increasing FADS SNP and erythrocyte DHA status were consistently associated with improved personal–social skills in this small cohort of children of obese mothers irrespective of sex, but the sample was too small to verify potential sex-specific effects.
Low vitamin D level in HIV-positive persons has been associated with disease progression. We compared the levels of serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25(OH)D) in HIV-positive and HIV-negative persons, and investigated the role of nutritional supplementation and antiretroviral treatment (ART) on serum 25(OH)D levels. A randomised nutritional supplementation trial was conducted at Jimma University Specialized Hospital, Ethiopia. The trial compared 200 g/d of lipid-based nutrient supplement (LNS) with no supplementation during the first 3 months of ART. The supplement provided twice the recommended daily allowance of vitamin D (10 μg/200 g). The level of serum 25(OH)D before nutritional intervention and ART initiation was compared with serum 25(OH)D of HIV-negative individuals. A total of 348 HIV-positive and 100 HIV-negative persons were recruited. The median baseline serum 25(OH)D level was higher in HIV-positive than in HIV-negative persons (42·5 v. 35·3 nmol/l, P<0·001). In all, 282 HIV-positive persons with BMI>17 kg/m2 were randomised to either LNS supplementation (n 189) or no supplementation (n 93) during the first 3 months of ART. The supplemented group had a 4·1 (95 % CI 1·7, 6·4) nmol/l increase in serum 25(OH)D, whereas the non-supplemented group had a 10·8 (95 % CI 7·8, 13·9) nmol/l decrease in serum 25(OH)D level after 3 months of ART. Nutritional supplementation that contained vitamin D prevented a reduction in serum 25(OH)D levels in HIV-positive persons initiating ART. Vitamin D replenishment may be needed to prevent reduction in serum 25(OH)D levels during ART.
Children with severe acute malnutrition (SAM) with complications require in-patient management including therapeutic feeding. Little attention has been given to the effects of these feeds on the essential fatty acid status of children with SAM. The objective of this study was to describe changes in the PUFA composition in whole blood in children with SAM during treatment and to determine predictors of change. This prospective study took place in a paediatric nutrition rehabilitation unit in Kampala, Uganda, and assessed whole-blood fatty acid composition of children with SAM at admission, transition, discharge and follow-up (8 and 16 weeks). ANCOVA was used to identify predictors of change in whole-blood PUFA. The study included 120 children with SAM and twenty-nine healthy control children of similar age and sex. Among the SAM children, 38 % were female and 64 % had oedema. Whole-blood n-6 PUFA proportions increased from admission to follow-up, except for arachidonic acid, which decreased by 0·79 (95 % CI 0·46, 1·12) fatty acid percentage (FA%) from admission to transition and 0·10 (95 % CI 0·23, 0·44) FA% at discharge. n-3 Long-chain (LC) PUFA decreased by 0·21 (95 % CI 0·03, 0·40) FA% at discharge and 0·22 (95 % CI 0·01, 0·42) FA% at 8 weeks of follow-up. This decrease was greater in children from families with recent fish intake and those with nasogastric tube feeding. Current therapeutic feeds do not correct whole-blood levels of LCPUFA, particularly n-3 LCPUFA, in children with SAM. Increased attention is needed to the contents of n-3 LCPUFA in therapeutic feeds.
To explore whether socio-economic differences exist in cardiometabolic risk markers in children and whether lifestyle-related factors potentially mediate these differences.
Cross-sectional study including measurements of fasting blood lipids, glucose, homeostasis model assessment of insulin resistance (HOMA-IR), blood pressure and heart rate. Potential mediators examined were fat mass index (FMI); intakes of fruit, vegetables, dietary fibre and added sugar; whole-blood n-3 long-chain PUFA (LCPUFA) as a biomarker of fish intake; and physical activity and sedentary time.
Nine primary schools in Denmark.
Children aged 8–11 years (n 715).
Children of parents with the shortest compared with longest education had higher TAG by 0·12 (95 % CI 0·04, 0·21) mmol/l and HOMA-IR by 0·36 (0·10, 0·62), whereas children of parents with a vocational education had higher total cholesterol by 0·14 (0·02, 0·27) mmol/l and LDL cholesterol by 0·14 (0·03, 0·25) mmol/l compared with children of parents with the longest education; all P<0·05. FMI explained 25 % of the difference in TAG, 64 % of the difference in HOMA-IR and 21–29 % of the differences in cholesterols. FMI and whole-blood n-3 LCPUFA combined explained 42 % of the difference in TAG, whereas FMI, whole-blood n-3 LCPUFA and dietary fibre explained 89 % of the difference in HOMA-IR.
Socio-economic differences were present in blood lipids and insulin resistance among 8- to 11-year-olds and were mediated by body fatness, whole-blood n-3 LCPUFA and dietary fibre. These lifestyle factors may be targets in public initiatives to reduce socio-economic differences. Confirmation in longitudinal studies and trials is warranted.
Several studies have investigated the effects of fish oil (FO) on infant growth, but little is known about the effects of FO and sex on insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1), the main regulator of growth in childhood. We explored whether FO v. sunflower oil (SO) supplementation from 9 to 18 months of age affected IGF-1 and its binding protein-3 (IGFBP-3) and whether the potential effects were sex specific. Danish infants (n 115) were randomly allocated to 5 ml/d FO (1·2 g/d n-3 long-chain PUFA (n-3 LCPUFA)) or SO. We measured growth, IGF-1, IGFBP-3 and erythrocyte EPA, a biomarker of n-3 LCPUFA intake and status, at 9 and 18 months. Erythrocyte EPA increased strongly with FO compared with SO (P<0·001). There were no effects of FO compared with SO on IGF-1 in the total population, but a sex×group interaction (P=0·02). Baseline-adjusted IGF-1 at 18 months was 11·1 µg/l (95 % CI 0·4, 21·8; P=0·04) higher after FO compared with SO supplementation among boys only. The sex×group interaction was borderline significant in the model of IGFBP-3 (P=0·09), with lower IGFBP-3 with FO compared with SO among girls only (P=0·03). The results were supported by sex-specific dose–response associations between changes in erythrocyte EPA and changes in IGF-1 and IGFBP-3 (both P<0·03). Moreover, IGF-1 was sex specifically associated with BMI and length. In conclusion, FO compared with SO resulted in higher IGF-1 among boys and lower IGFBP-3 among girls. The potential long-term implications for growth and body composition should be investigated further.
Sufficient summer/autumn vitamin D status appears important to mitigate winter nadirs at northern latitudes. We conducted a cross-sectional study to evaluate autumn vitamin D status and its determinants in 782 Danish 8–11-year-old children (55°N) using baseline data from the Optimal well-being, development and health for Danish children through a healthy New Nordic Diet (OPUS) School Meal Study, a large randomised controlled trial. Blood samples and demographic and behavioural data, including 7-d dietary recordings, objectively measured physical activity, and time spent outdoors during school hours, were collected during September–November. Mean serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25(OH)D) was 60·8 (sd 18·7) nmol/l. Serum 25(OH)D levels ≤50 nmol/l were found in 28·4 % of the children and 2·4 % had concentrations <25 nmol/l. Upon multivariate adjustment, increasing age (per year) (β −2·9; 95 % CI −5·1, −0·7 nmol/l), female sex (β −3·3; 95 % CI −5·9, −0·7 nmol/l), sampling in October (β −5·2; 95 % CI −10·1, −0·4 nmol/l) and November (β −13·3; 95 % CI −17·7, −9·1), and non-white ethnicity (β −5·7; 95 % CI −11·1, −0·3 nmol/l) were negatively associated with 25(OH)D (all P<0·05). Likewise, immigrant/descendant background was negatively associated with 25(OH)D, particularly in females (β −16·3; 95 % CI −21·9, −10·7) (P<0·001) (Pinteraction=0·003). Moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA) (min/d) (β 0·06; 95 % CI 0·01, 0·12), outdoor walking during school hours (min/week) (β 0·4; 95 % CI 0·1, 0·6) and intake of vitamin D-containing supplements ≥3 d/week (β 8·7; 95 % CI 6·4, 11·0) were positively associated with 25(OH)D (all P<0·05). The high proportion of children with vitamin D status below the recommended sufficiency level of 50 nmol/l raises concern as levels expectedly drop further during winter months. Frequent intake of vitamin D supplements was strongly associated with status. MVPA and outdoor activity during school hours should be investigated further in interventions to improve autumn vitamin D status in children at northern latitudes.
Vitamin D status has been associated with cardiometabolic markers even in children, but the associations may be confounded by fat mass and physical activity behaviour. This study investigated associations between vitamin D status and cardiometabolic risk profile, as well as the impact of fat mass and physical activity in Danish 8–11-year-old children, using baseline data from 782 children participating in the Optimal well-being, development and health for Danish children through a healthy New Nordic Diet (OPUS) School Meal Study. We assessed vitamin D status as serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25(OH)D) and measured blood pressure, fasting plasma glucose, homoeostasis model of assessment-insulin resistance, plasma lipids, inflammatory markers, anthropometry and fat mass by dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry, and physical activity by 7 d accelerometry during August–November. Mean serum 25(OH)D was 60·8 (sd 18·7) nmol/l. Each 10 mmol/l 25(OH)D increase was associated with lower diastolic blood pressure (−0·3 mmHg, 95 % CI −0·6, −0·0) (P=0·02), total cholesterol (−0·07 mmol/l, 95 % CI −0·10, −0·05), LDL-cholesterol (−0·05 mmol/l, 95 % CI −0·08, −0·03), TAG (−0·02 mmol/l, 95 % CI −0·03, −0·01) (P≤0·001 for all lipids) and lower metabolic syndrome (MetS) score (P=0·01). Adjustment for fat mass index did not change the associations, but the association with blood pressure became borderline significant after adjustment for physical activity (P=0·06). In conclusion, vitamin D status was negatively associated with blood pressure, plasma lipids and a MetS score in Danish school children with low prevalence of vitamin D deficiency, and apart from blood pressure the associations were independent of body fat and physical activity. The potential underlying cause–effect relationship and possible long-term implications should be investigated in randomised controlled trials.
A child's diet is an important determinant for later health, growth and development. In Denmark, most children in primary school bring their own packed lunch from home and attend an after-school care institution. The aim of the present study was to evaluate the food, energy and nutrient intake of Danish school children in relation to dietary guidelines and nutrient recommendations, and to assess the food intake during and outside school hours. In total, 834 children from nine public schools located in the eastern part of Denmark were included in this cross-sectional study and 798 children (95·7 %) completed the dietary assessment sufficiently (August–November 2011). The whole diet was recorded during seven consecutive days using the Web-based Dietary Assessment Software for Children (WebDASC). Compared with the food-based dietary guidelines and nutrient recommendations, 85 % of the children consumed excess amounts of red meat, 89 % consumed too much saturated fat, and 56 % consumed too much added sugar. Additionally 35 or 91 % of the children (depending on age group) consumed insufficient amounts of fruits and vegetables, 85 % consumed insufficient amounts of fish, 86 % consumed insufficient amounts of dietary fibre, 60 or 84 % had an insufficient Fe intake (depending on age group), and 96 % had an insufficient vitamin D intake. The study also showed that there is a higher intake of fruits and bread during school hours than outside school hours; this is not the case with, for example, fish and vegetables, and future studies should investigate strategies to increase fish and vegetable intake during school hours.
A New Nordic Diet (NND) was developed in the context of the Danish OPUS Study (Optimal well-being, development and health for Danish children through a healthy New Nordic Diet). Health, gastronomic potential, sustainability and Nordic identity were crucial principles of the NND. The aim of the present study was to investigate the effects of serving NND school meals compared with the usual packed lunches on the dietary intake of NND signature foods. For two 3-month periods, 834 Danish children aged 8–11 years received NND school meals or their usual packed lunches brought from home (control) in random order. The entire diet was recorded over 7 consecutive days using a validated Web-based Dietary Assessment Software for Children. The NND resulted in higher intakes during the entire week (% increase) of root vegetables (116 (95 % CI 1·93, 2·42)), cabbage (26 (95 % CI 1·08, 1·47)), legumes (22 (95 % CI 1·06, 1·40)), herbs (175 (95 % CI 2·36, 3·20)), fresh berries (48 (95 % CI 1·13, 1·94)), nuts and seeds (18 (95 % CI 1·02, 1·38)), lean fish and fish products (47 (95 % CI 1·31, 1·66)), fat fish and fish products (18 (95 % CI 1·02, 1·37)) and potatoes (129 (95 % CI 2·05, 2·56)). Furthermore, there was a decrease in the number of children with zero intakes when their habitual packed lunches were replaced by NND school meals. In conclusion, this study showed that the children increased their intake of NND signature foods, and, furthermore, there was a decrease in the number of children with zero intakes of NND signature foods when their habitual packed lunches were replaced by school meals following the NND principles.
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.
Early excessive weight gain is positively associated with later obesity, and yet the effect of weight gain during specific periods and the impact of infant feeding practices are debated. The objective of the present study was to examine the impact of weight gain in periods of early childhood on body composition at 3 years, and whether infant feeding modified the relationship between early growth and body composition at 3 years. We studied 233 children from the prospective cohort study, SKOT (in Danish: Småbørns Kost og Trivsel). Birth weight z-scores (BWZ) and change in weight-for-age z-scores (WAZ) from 0 to 5, 5 to 9, 9 to 18 and 18 to 36 months were analysed for relations with body composition (anthropometry and bioelectrical impedance) at 3 years by multivariate regression analysis. BWZ and change in WAZ from 0 to 5 months were positively associated with BMI, fat mass index (FMI) and fat-free mass index (FFMI) at 3 years. Full breastfeeding for 6 months (compared to less than 1 month) eliminated the effect of early growth (P= 0·01). Full breastfeeding for 6 months (compared to less than 1 month) also eliminated the positive relation between BWZ and FMI (P= 0·009). No effect modification of infant feeding was found for FFMI. In conclusion, high birth weight and rapid growth from 0 to 5 months were associated with increased FMI and FFMI at 3 years. Longer duration of full breastfeeding reduced the effect of birth weight and early weight gain on fat mass.
The aim of the present study was to compare total food intake, total and relative edible plate waste and self-reported food likings between school lunch based on the new Nordic diet (NND) and packed lunch from home. In two 3-month periods in a cluster-randomised controlled unblinded cross-over study 3rd- and 4th-grade children (n 187) from two municipal schools received lunch meals based on NND principles and their usual packed lunch (control). Food intake and plate waste (n 1558) were calculated after weighing lunch plates before and after the meal for five consecutive days and self-reported likings (n 905) assessed by a web-based questionnaire. Average food intake was 6 % higher for the NND period compared with the packed lunch period. The quantity of NND intake varied with the menu (P < 0·0001) and was positively associated with self-reported likings. The edible plate waste was 88 (sd 80) g for the NND period and 43 (sd 60) g for the packed lunch period whereas the relative edible plate waste was no different between periods for meals having waste (n 1050). Edible plate waste differed between menus (P < 0·0001), with more waste on soup days (36 %) and vegetarian days (23 %) compared with the packed lunch period. Self-reported likings were negatively associated with percentage plate waste (P < 0·0001). The study suggests that portion sizes need to be considered in new school meal programmes. New strategies with focus on reduction of plate waste, children's likings and nutritious school meals are crucial from both a nutritional, economic and environmental point of view.
It is widely assumed that nutrition can improve school performance in children; however, evidence remains limited and inconclusive. In the present study, we investigated whether serving healthy school meals influenced concentration and school performance of 8- to 11-year-old Danish children. The OPUS (Optimal well-being, development and health for Danish children through a healthy New Nordic Diet) School Meal Study was a cluster-randomised, controlled, cross-over trial comparing a healthy school meal programme with the usual packed lunch from home (control) each for 3 months (NCT 01457794). The d2 test of attention, the Learning Rating Scale (LRS) and standard tests on reading and mathematics proficiency were administered at baseline and at the end of each study period. Intervention effects were evaluated using hierarchical mixed models. The school meal intervention did not influence concentration performance (CP; primary outcome, n 693) or processing speed; however, the decrease in error percentage was 0·18 points smaller (P< 0·001) in the intervention period than in the control period (medians: baseline 2·03 %; intervention 1·46 %; control 1·37 %). In contrast, the intervention increased reading speed (0·7 sentence, P= 0·009) and the number of correct sentences (1·8 sentences, P< 0·001), which corresponded to 11 and 25 %, respectively, of the effect of one school year. The percentage of correct sentences also improved (P< 0·001), indicating that the number correct improved relatively more than reading speed. There was no effect on overall math performance or outcomes from the LRS. In conclusion, school meals did not affect CP, but improved reading performance, which is a complex cognitive activity that involves inference, and increased errors related to impulsivity and inattention. These findings are worth examining in future trials.
An increasing number of children are exhibiting features of the metabolic syndrome (MetS) including abdominal fatness, hypertension, adverse lipid profile and insulin resistance. Healthy eating practices during school hours may improve the cardiometabolic profile, but there is a lack of evidence. In the present study, the effect of provision of school meals rich in fish, vegetables and fibre on a MetS score (primary outcome) and on individual cardiometabolic markers and body composition (secondary outcomes) was investigated in 834 Danish school children. The study was carried out as a cluster-randomised, controlled, non-blinded, cross-over trial at nine schools. Children aged 8–11 years received freshly prepared school lunch and snacks or usual packed lunch from home (control) each for 3 months. Dietary intake, physical activity, cardiometabolic markers and body composition were measured at baseline and after each dietary period. The school meals did not affect the MetS score (P= 1·00). However, it was found that mean arterial pressure was reduced by 0·4 (95 % CI 0·0, 0·8) mmHg (P= 0·04), fasting total cholesterol concentrations by 0·05 (95 % CI 0·02, 0·08) mmol/l (P= 0·001), HDL-cholesterol concentrations by 0·02 (95 % CI 0·00, 0·03) mmol/l, TAG concentrations by 0·02 (95 % CI 0·00, 0·04) mmol/l (both P< 0·05), and homeostasis model of assessment-insulin resistance by 0·10 (95 % CI 0·04, 0·16) points (P= 0·001) compared with the control diet in the intention-to-treat analyses. Waist circumference increased 0·5 (95 % CI 0·3, 0·7) cm (P< 0·001), but BMI z-score remained unaffected. Complete-case analyses and analyses adjusted for household educational level, pubertal status and physical activity confirmed the results. In conclusion, the school meals did not affect the MetS score in 8–11-year-olds, as small improvements in blood pressure, TAG concentrations and insulin resistance were counterbalanced by slight undesired effects on waist circumference and HDL-cholesterol concentrations.
The OPUS (Optimal well-being, development and health for Danish children through a healthy New Nordic Diet (NND)) School Meal Study investigated the effects on the intake of foods and nutrients of introducing school meals based on the principles of the NND covering lunch and all snacks during the school day in a cluster-randomised cross-over design. For two 3-month periods, 834 Danish children aged 8–11 years from forty-six school classes at nine schools received NND school meals or their usual packed lunches brought from home (control) in random order. The whole diet of the children was recorded over seven consecutive days using a validated Web-based Dietary Assessment Software for Children. The NND resulted in higher intakes of potatoes (130 %, 95 % CI 2·07, 2·58), fish (48 %, 95 % CI 1·33, 1·65), cheese (25 %, 95 % CI 1·15, 1·36), vegetables (16 %, 95 % CI 1·10, 1·21), eggs (10 %, 95 % CI 1·01, 1·19) and beverages (6 %, 95 % CI 1·02, 1·09), and lower intakes of bread (13 %, 95 % CI 0·84, 0·89) and fats (6 %, 95 % CI 0·90, 0·98) were found among the children during the NND period than in the control period (all, P< 0·05). No difference was found in mean energy intake (P= 0·4), but on average children reported 0·9 % less energy intake from fat and 0·9 % higher energy intake from protein during the NND period than in the control period. For micronutrient intakes, the largest differences were found for vitamin D (42 %, 95 % CI 1·32, 1·53) and iodine (11 %, 95 % CI 1·08, 1·15) due to the higher fish intake. In conclusion, the present study showed that the overall dietary intake at the food and nutrient levels was improved among children aged 8–11 years when their habitual packed lunches were replaced by school meals following the principles of the NND.
Arterial stiffness, blood pressure (BP) and blood lipids may be improved by milk in adults and the effects may be mediated via proteins. However, limited is known about the effects of milk proteins on central aortic BP and no studies have examined the effects in children. Therefore, the present trial examined the effect of milk and milk proteins on brachial and central aortic BP, blood lipids, inflammation and arterial stiffness in overweight adolescents. A randomised controlled trial was conducted in 193 overweight adolescents aged 12–15 years. They were randomly assigned to drink 1 litre of water, skimmed milk, whey or casein for 12 weeks. The milk-based test drinks contained 35 g protein/l. The effects were compared with the water group and a pretest control group consisting of thirty-two of the adolescents followed 12 weeks before the start of the intervention. Outcomes were brachial and central aortic BP, pulse wave velocity and augmentation index, serum C-reactive protein and blood lipids. Brachial and central aortic diastolic BP (DBP) decreased by 2·7% (P = 0·036) and 2·6 % (P = 0·048), respectively, within the casein group and the changes were significantly different from those of the pretest control group (P = 0·040 and P = 0·034, respectively). There was a significant increase in central aortic DBP, and in brachial and central systolic BP in the whey group compared with the water group (P = 0·003, P = 0·009 and P = 0·002, respectively). There were no changes in measures of arterial stiffness or blood lipid concentrations. A high intake of casein improves DBP in overweight adolescents. Thus, casein may be beneficial for younger overweight subjects in terms of reducing the long-term risk of CVD. In contrast, whey protein seems to increase BP compared with drinking water; however, water may be considered an active control group.