Background and aims: Cardiovascular disease development is related to known risk factors (such as diet and blood lipids) that begin in childhood. Among dietary factors, the consumption of ultra-processing products has received attention. This study investigated whether children's consumption of processed and ultra-processing products at preschool age predicted an increase in lipid concentrations from preschool to school age.
Methods and results: Cohort study conducted with 345 children of low socioeconomic status from São Leopoldo, Brazil, aged 3-4 years and 7-8 years. Blood tests were done to measure lipid profile. Dietary data were collected through 24-h recalls and the children's processed and ultra-processing product intake was assessed. Linear regression analysis was used to assess the relationship between processed and ultra-processed product intake at 3-4 years on changes in lipid concentrations from preschool to school age. The percentage of daily energy provided by processed and ultra-processed products was 42.6 ± 8.5 at preschool age and 49.2 ± 9.5 at school age, on average. In terms of energy intake, the main products consumed were breads, savoury snacks, cookies, candy and other sweets in both age groups. Ultra-processed product consumption at preschool age was a predictor of a higher increase in total cholesterol (β = 0.430; P = 0.046) and LDL cholesterol (β = 0.369; P = 0.047) from preschool to school age.
Conclusion: Our data suggest that early ultra-processed product consumption played a role in altering lipoprotein profiles in children from a low-income community in Brazil. These results are important to understanding the role of food processing and the early dietary determinants of cardiovascular disease.
Keywords: Child nutrition; Cohort studies; Food processing and ultra-processed foods; Risk factors.
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