Are highly processed foods harmful to children?  Study finds association between eating more ultra-processed foods and lower fitness levels in children - ScienceDaily

Are highly processed foods harmful to children? Study finds association between eating more ultra-processed foods and lower fitness levels in children – ScienceDaily

A new study found that 3- to 5-year-olds who ate more ultra-processed foods had poorer motor skills than kids who ate less of these foods. It also showed lower cardiovascular fitness in people aged 12 to 15 who ate more ultra-processed foods.

Although previous research has shown that eating ultra-processed foods is associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease in adults, this is one of the first studies to show an association between consumption of these foods and lower levels of fitness in children.

Ultra-processed foods in this study were categorized as including packaged snacks, breakfast cereals, desserts, soda, sweetened juices, yogurt, canned soup, and prepared foods such as pizza, sausage, burgers, and chicken nuggets.

“Healthy dietary and exercise behaviors are established at a very young age,” said research team leader Jacqueline Fernarelli, PhD, assistant professor and director of the MSc Public Health Program at Sacred Heart University. “Our findings point to the need to educate families about cost-effective ways to reduce the intake of ultra-processed foods to help lower the risk of cardiovascular problems in adulthood.”

Vernarelli will present the results online at NUTRITION 2022 LIVE ONLINE, the premier annual meeting of the American Dietetic Association held June 14-16.

To examine the relationship between physical fitness and ultra-processed foods during different stages of childhood, researchers analyzed data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) for Youth Fitness.

This 2012 survey used interviews and fitness tests to collect data on the physical activity, fitness levels, and food intake of more than 1,500 American children ages 3 to 15. Ultra-processed foods were identified using NOVA, which ranks food and beverage items according to the level of food processing.

For children 5 years old and younger, the researchers used motor development as a measure of fitness. The analysis revealed that the children with the lowest motor development scores consumed 273 calories per day from ultra-processed foods compared to the children with the highest motor development scores.

Cardiovascular fitness has been used as a fitness measure in older children. The study showed that teens and teens with good cardiovascular fitness consumed 226 fewer calories per day from ultra-processed foods than those who were not in cardiovascular fitness.

“Although prepared foods are easy to put in a school bag, our research shows the importance of preparing healthy snacks and meals,” Vernarelli said. “Think of it like saving for retirement: You are now making decisions that will affect your child’s future.”

As a next step, the researchers plan to look more closely at consumption patterns of ultra-processed foods by age group. For example, do children eat more of these foods at breakfast, lunch, or snacks? A better understanding of how and when these foods are consumed can help guide future interventions designed to encourage healthy eating.

Vernarelli will present this on-demand research starting at noon on Tuesday 14 June, during the online live feeding relationship between dietary patterns and the behavioral/community outcomes session (summary; presentation details).

Story source:

Materials Introduction of American Dietetic Association. Note: Content can be modified according to style and length.

#highly #processed #foods #harmful #children #Study #finds #association #eating #ultraprocessed #foods #fitness #levels #children #ScienceDaily

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.