Background & aims: Cardiometabolic risk has its origins in early life. However, it is unclear whether diet during early childhood is associated with cardiometabolic health, and what the role is of obesity. We aimed to study whether overall diet during early childhood is associated with cardiometabolic health and to examine if difference in body composition explain this association.
Methods: We examined associations of different types of dietary patterns in infancy with cardiometabolic health at school age among 2026 Dutch children participating in a population-based cohort in the Netherlands. Food intake at the age of 1 year was assessed with a food-frequency questionnaire. Three dietary pattern approaches were used: 1) An a priori-defined diet quality score; 2) dietary patterns based on variation in food intake, derived from principal component analysis (PCA); and 3) dietary patterns based on variations in fat and fat-free mass index, derived with reduced-rank regression (RRR). At the children's age of 6 years, we measured their body composition, systolic and diastolic blood pressure, and serum concentrations of insulin, triglycerides, and HDL-cholesterol, which we combined in a cardiometabolic risk-factor score.
Results: We observed that, after adjustment for confounders, children with higher adherence to a 'Health-conscious' PCA-derived pattern had a lower cardiometabolic risk-factor score (-0.07 SD (95%CI -0.12; -0.02) per SD). This association did not change after adjustment for fat and fat-free mass index. The RRR-derived dietary patterns based on variations in body composition were not associated with the cardiometabolic risk-factor score.
Conclusions: Our results suggest that diet in early childhood may affect cardiometabolic health independent of differences in body composition.
Keywords: Cardiometabolic health; Children; Cohort; Dietary patterns; Epidemiology; Obesity.
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