Under-nutrition in early years can increase the risk of heart disease in later life

Female children, teenagers and young adults who experience a lack of nutrition during these years could face a higher risk of developing heart disease as they get older, new research in Holland has found.

The author of the study, Annet Van Abeelen, a PhD student at the University Medical Centre Utrecht and the University of Amsterdam believes the findings are crucial to pinpointing the importance childhood plays in adult health.

She said, “Growth that has been hampered by under-nutrition in later childhood, followed by a subsequent recovery, may have metabolic consequences that contribute to an increased risk of disease later in adulthood.”

Dutch researchers conducted a survey of 7,845 women who were all aged between 0 and 21 years old during the devastating Dutch famine of 1944 – 1945 at the end of the Second World War. During this time, their daily calorie intake is estimated to have dropped from 1,400 calories to a meagre 400 – 800 calories.

Women that were ‘moderately’ exposed to the famine were found to have a slightly increased risk of developing coronary heart disease compared to those women who were not exposed to it.

However, women who were aged between 10 and 17 years old at the beginning of the famine period and therefore brutally exposed to under-nourishment were shown to have a 38 per cent higher risk in later life of suffering heart disease. This figure was even true when factors such as socioeconomic status and smoking habits had been removed from the equation.

Senior Heart Health Dietician at the British Heart Foundation, Victoria Taylor, believes the study findings highlight how a person’s environment can result in having a long-term impact on heart health. She said, “It adds to the importance of providing a healthy diet for children and young people because of the way it can shape their future heart health.”

View the original Net Doctor article.

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Emma Hilton

Written by Emma Hilton

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