Objective: The aim of this study was to assess the safety and efficacy of lowering dietary intake of total fat, saturated fat, and cholesterol in growing children and adolescents with severe hyperlipidemia.
Study design: This is a 3-year follow-up study conducted on a sample of convenience at three pediatric referral centers in New York City and its suburbs. Subjects were 138 children and adolescents 2 to 15 years of age (54% male), who had been referred with a diagnosis of hyperlipidemia. Those selected had total serum cholesterol values greater than the 95th percentile for age and had at least three visits over 3 years. They were placed on diets restricting total fat content to 30% of total calories and saturated fat to 10% of total calories (National Cholesterol Education Program Step I diet). Anthropometric measures, lipid profiles, and dietary assessment were obtained at each visit. Anthropometric data were analyzed by sex and age. Z scores for height and weight were calculated from NHANES II data and were compared by paired t tests (Hamill et al., 1979, Am J Clin Nutr 32:607-29).
Results: Total serum cholesterol dropped from 262 mg/dL at baseline to 249 mg/dL at 3-year follow-up (P = 0.003). There was no significant change in height or weight percentile, expressed as Z score, from baseline to 3-year follow up.
Conclusions: In this population the supervised dietary interventions resulted in a sustained improvement of the lipid profile, with no demonstrable adverse effect on growth.