Intake of fruits, vegetables, and dairy products in early childhood and subsequent blood pressure change

Epidemiology. 2005 Jan;16(1):4-11. doi: 10.1097/01.ede.0000147106.32027.3e.


Background: Diets characterized by high intakes of fruits and vegetables and low-fat dairy products (for example, the DASH diet) have been shown to reduce blood pressure in adults. The effects of similar diets on children's blood pressure are unknown.

Methods: We used 8 years of follow-up data from 95 children, initially 3 to 6 years of age at enrollment in the prospective Framingham Children's Study in 1986. The yearly clinic visits included 5 measures of blood pressure obtained with an automated device. Diet was assessed by means of replicate sets of 3-day food diaries during each year.

Results: Children who consumed more fruits and vegetables (4 or more servings per day) or more dairy products (2 or more servings per day) during the preschool years had smaller yearly gains in systolic blood pressure throughout childhood. By the time of early adolescence, children with higher intakes of fruits and vegetables and dairy products had an adjusted mean (+/- standard deviation) systolic blood pressure of 106 +/- 2.9 mm Hg, whereas those with lower intakes in both food groups had a mean systolic blood pressure of 113 +/-1.5 mm Hg. Those with higher intakes of fruits and vegetables alone or dairy alone had intermediate levels of systolic blood pressure in adolescence. The effects on diastolic blood pressure were weaker.

Conclusion: These results suggest that a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and dairy products may have beneficial effects on blood pressure during childhood.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Blood Pressure / physiology*
  • Body Mass Index
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Dairy Products*
  • Feeding Behavior
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Fruit*
  • Humans
  • Life Style
  • Male
  • Parents
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Vegetables*