Tags: fish | pufa | diet | fatty | acids | children

Children Aren't Eating Enough Fish: Study

By Nick Tate   |   Tuesday, 17 Sep 2013 03:32 PM

American kids aren't eating enough fish or other foods with healthy polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA), potentially setting themselves up for health problems later, according to new research.

The study, conducted by the Research Institute at Nationwide Children's Hospital, suggests the troubling deficit in the diet of many youngsters may leave them vulnerable to growth problems and neurological issues.
Lead researcher Sarah Keim, who reported her findings in the journal Maternal and Child Nutrition, noted omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids are considered a key indicator of a high-quality diet and play an important role in cell function, inflammation, eye and brain development.

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But the results of her research — based on information involving nearly 2,500 children from 1 to 5 years old from the U.S. National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey — suggest many kids aren't getting enough of them.
"Only about 54 percent of children ate fish at least once in the previous month," she said. "Non-Hispanic black children were more likely than non-Hispanic white children to have eaten fish. Because diet can be an important contributor to many diseases, it's important to understand how such disparities might contribute to disease risk."
She noted there is no official dietary recommendation in the U.S. for PUFA intake or supplementation among children, although the Institute of Medicine recommends two three-ounce servings of fish per week for children.
"According to our research, however, children are clearly not consuming this much fish," said Keim.
"This work could help inform dietary recommendations for children, and may be particularly important for the preterm population. We are currently carrying out a clinical trial to see if [PUFA] supplementation when children are 1 year of age can help cognitive development in those born preterm."
Ideally, she said families should introduce children to a variety of fresh foods as soon as they are old enough to eat solids.
"Dietary habits can form very early, so starting with a balanced diet may have long-lasting effects for children's health," including fish and other good sources of healthy fatty acids, she said.
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