I love to cook fatty foods and bake sweets. It runs in my family, and all the recipes I learned first were the ones my mom learned from my grandma and great grandma. However, my grandmothers were not known for cooking the healthiest foods. This is why I’ve tried so hard to “clean” up my cooking over the years. Balancing meals is a fine art that I have yet to perfect, but I’m getting there.

One aspect of a balanced diet includes various types of polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA), which many children aren’t getting today. A recent study, the first of its kind, researched just how many children under the age of five ingest polyunsaturated fats regularly. Polyunsaturated fats are fats that have more than one double-bonded carbon in the molecule. They are found in many plant-based oils and foods and they help reduce cholesterol and are essential for healthy cardiovascular systems.

The study was conducted by Dr. Sarah Keim, the principal investigator in the Center for Biobehavioral Health at The Research Institute at Nationwide Children's Hospital, found a troubling deficit in the diet of many young children. The study was designed to see what the average PUFA intake was for children between infancy and kindergarten age, and it seems that few children are getting the amount of PUFA they need.

"The ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 intake was high -- about 10. Some experts use this as an indicator of diet quality, with a high ratio being less healthy," says Dr. Keim. "In addition, intake of a key fatty acid known as DHA in children 12 to 60 months of age was low - lower than what infants generally consume -- and it did not increase with age."

Since a proper diet is important for resisting various types of diseases, it’s important to see how a deficiency of PUFA might contribute to disease risk. The results of the study were a little alarming. Though there are no official dietary recommendations in the U.S. for DHA and EPA intake for children, a “reasonable amount” of PSFA is considered to be 3oz of fish a week for children.

The study showed that children are clearly not ingesting even this small amount. The reseach team says that parents need to be aware of how crucial these omega-3 PUFA are to their children’s diet and the sooner they’re introduced into their diet the more likely they will become a lifelong dietary habit for their children.

Source: Nationwide Children's Hospital (2013, September 13). Diets low in polyunsaturated fatty acids may be a problem for youngsters. ScienceDaily.

Keyword Tags: