The growing prevalence of childhood overweight and obesity has renewed interest in determining the influence of the maternal and infant diet on the risk of developing excess fat mass later in life.
Review of available human and animal data reporting the effects of dietary fat and fat types early in life on adipose development.
Rodent studies tend to show that maternal high-fat feeding during pregnancy and lactation results in increased adiposity of the offspring. Nevertheless, today there is a lack of population-based studies investigating this potential detrimental effect of maternal high-fat intake. Most epidemiological studies, performed so far, do not find any association between the level of dietary fat intake of infants and children and body weight and/or fatness. Regarding fat types exposure to high levels of dietary n-6 fatty acids during gestation and post-natal life, has been shown to promote obesity in mice. Nevertheless, other rodent studies do not demonstrate such an effect.
There is no evidence supporting a restriction of fat intake during the first two post-natal years but the potential detrimental effects of maternal high-fat intake during gestation should be further investigated. The role of dietary fat types as early determinants of childhood obesity has so far been poorly studied. Robust evidence to support the adipogenic effects of n-6 fatty acids enriched-diets is currently lacking but this hypothesis is of importance and should be further evaluated in different animal models as well as in longitudinal human studies.
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The Mediterranean diet for Polish infants: a losing struggle or a battle still worth fighting?
Mediterranean Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism Open Access 18 September 2010
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The authors are grateful to Dr K Acheson for critically reading the manuscript.
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Macé, K., Shahkhalili, Y., Aprikian, O. et al. Dietary fat and fat types as early determinants of childhood obesity: a reappraisal. Int J Obes 30 (Suppl 4), S50–S57 (2006). https://doi.org/10.1038/sj.ijo.0803519
- adipose tissue
- polyunsaturated fat
- metabolic programming
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