Because first years are critical to a child’s physical and neurological development, promoting good dietary habits early in life can have lasting health benefits. However, a new study shows our nation’s kids may not be getting enough of the nutrients they need—in particular the beneficial polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) that play an important role in promoting eye, brain and bone health.*
Scientists at The Research Institute at Nationwide Children’s Hospital recently completed a groundbreaking study of nearly 2,500 children between the ages of 1 and 5 years. Results of the study, published online in September, revealed the overall intake among U.S. children of key fatty acids such as DHA and EPA was significantly lower than the amounts consumed by children in many other countries.
According to Sarah Keim, PhD, principal investigator in the Center for Biobehavioral Health at The Research Institute at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, “The ratio of Omega-6 to Omega-3 intake was high—about 10. Some experts use this as an indicator of diet quality, with a high ratio being less healthy. In addition, intake of a key fatty acid known as DHA in children 12 to 60 months of age was low—lower than what infants generally consume—and it did not increase with age.”
The study also revealed that most American children are not consuming two 3-ounce servings of fish per week, which the Institute of Medicine considers a “reasonable intake.” While currently there are no official dietary recommendations for DHA and EPA intake or supplementation in children, researchers hope studies like this one will encourage health professionals to more closely examine the dietary needs of young children and possibly consider putting into place specific recommendations.
Based in Columbus, Ohio, The Research Institute at Nationwide Children’s Hospital is one of the fastest growing pediatric research centers in the United States and is ranked in the top 10 for National Institutes of Health funding among free-standing children’s hospitals. The Research Institute engages in high-quality, cutting-edge research according to the highest scientific and ethical standards. The goal is simple: improved health for all children and their families.