Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Fat and Children: What the study doesn't say

Circulation published a study from Finland where 1,062 kids were studied from 7 months to 14 years of age. About half the kids received a lowfat diet and their parents were instructed on the diet. The other half had an unrestricted diet so we don't really know what they ate. (The article can be read here http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20070813/ap_on_he_me/diet_kids_fat_intake;_ylt=AgwGBN55QBHoOd2Uh5BeELPVJRIF)

The lowfat diet consisted of nuts, seeds, fish and oils from plants, was 30 - 35% fat and low in saturated fat and cholesterol (200 mg per day). The kids were tested at age 5 for brain development and at age 14 for growth.

The kids on the low fat diet had slightly lower LDL (bad cholesterol) levels but HDL (good cholesterol0 was the same for both groups. They found no difference in brain development or growth. In fact, even body mass index (what we use to determine obesity and overweight) was the same in both groups.

Note that the unrestricted diet and the lowfat diet were the same for body mas index. This means that trying to decrease body mass index with a lowfat diet is futile.

The researchers conclude that the lower levels of cholesterol are beneficial and may help prevent heart disease later on.

Aside from the fact that there is no evidence linking cholesterol levels to heart disease, there are other things not tested that are important to consider.

First of all, a low saturated fat diet for children is a very bad idea. Low vitamin D levels have been associated with cancer, multiple sclerosis, osteoporosis, diabetes and more. Vitamin D is only found in animal fat. We also get some from the sun, but only if we are in the sun without sunscreen. Summer sun is more favorable for vitamin D synthesis than winter sun.

We have already taken the sun out of the picture because we slather the sunscreen on our kids before they go out. Now health authorities are trying to take animal fat out of the picture. Where are our kids going to get vitamin D? Currently, there are no recommendations from the health authorities to give kids supplemental D. I expect to see an increase in cancer and other health problems as these poor kids get older.

Animal foods are also the only dietary source of cholesterol and we cannot live without it. Cholesterol is so important that the liver makes most of the cholesterol we need. Cholesterol is necessary for proper brain development. The article doesn't say whether or not these kids had ADHD or other learning disabilities. Low cholesterol is a risk factor for suicide and depression.

Saturated fat and cholesterol are also the building blocks of hormones such as testosterone and estrogen. Could it be that the increase in infertility is due to a lowfat diet? (Soy plays a role in this as well)

Vegetable fats, like soybean and corn oil, have been shown to promote cancer and other diseases.

Parents, if you really want your kids to enjoy good health, give them plenty of animal fats and limit refined and processed foods. Eat meals together whenever possible and don't allow eating of foods anywhere except in the kitchen or dining room. If raw milk from a grass fed cow is available, buy it. It is well worth the cost. And give them cod liver oil. It's an excellent source of Vitamins A and D which are necessary for proper growth and good health.

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