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HomeNutritionAs child weight climbs, effect of 'healthy' supplements drops

As child weight climbs, effect of 'healthy' supplements drops

Body weight plays a significant role in how much benefit children may get from consuming ‘good’ fats, a small Ohio State University study suggests, highlighting the need for weight-appropriate dosing of supplements and medications.

The researchers compared fatty acid uptake after kids took a supplement to both overall body weight and body-mass index. The more a child weighed, the smaller the measurement was of two key omega-3 fatty acids in their bloodstream. And the higher the BMI category, the lower the levels of EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid).

The study provides important information to parents trying to ensure their kids get an appropriate amount of omega-3 fatty acids and also highlights the need for weight-appropriate dosing of supplements and medications, say researchers from The Ohio State University.

Most of the science behind omega-3 benefits has concentrated on adults, infants and small children. But a growing body of research is looking at their role in the health of older children. In particular, omega-3 consumption has been shown to lower blood pressure and increase good cholesterol (HDL) in children 8 to 15 years old.

Omega-3 fatty acids are found naturally in foods including salmon, walnuts and soybeans. Parents looking to feed their children more of these foods should be mindful that as they gain weight they'll need more of them to make a difference, said lead author Lisa Christian, an associate professor of psychiatry in the Institute for Behavioral Medicine Research at Ohio State's Wexner Medical Centre.

"While this study just looked at fatty acid supplements, it's important to recognize that weight differences could factor into how children and adults respond to many types of medications," Christian said. "Weight, rather than age, may be more meaningful when determining recommended doses. The difference in size between a 7-year-old and a 10-year-old can be quite significant," she said.

The data comes from a trial conducted by Mary Fristad, professor of psychiatry, psychology and nutrition, and Eugene Arnold, professor emeritus of psychiatry and behavioral health. Their work looked at fatty-acid supplementation in 64 children with mood disorders. The 7- to 14-year-old children took either an omega-3 supplement or a placebo for 12 weeks. Those who took the supplement received 2,000 milligrams of omega-3 fatty acids in the form of four capsules daily.

"We have a growing body of evidence that omega-3 fatty acids are beneficial for physical and mental health. This paper gives us more information about an important question about taking omega-3 supplements — how much is a good amount," Fristad said of the new study.

Given fluctuations in BMI percentile measures as children grow, it would seem to make the most sense to base dosing on weight alone, Christian said.

The study also points to a need to consider weight-related differences in all studies of omega-3 intake in adults and children, the researchers wrote in their study.

Abstract
Guidelines for suggested intake of ω-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) are limited in youth and rely primarily on age. However, body weight varies considerably within age classifications. The current analyses examined effects of body weight and body mass index (BMI) on fatty acid accumulation in 64 youth (7–14 years) with a diagnosed mood disorder in a double-blind randomized-controlled trial (2000mg ω-3 supplements or a control capsule) across 12 weeks. Weight and height were measured at the first study visit and EPA and DHA levels were determined using fasting blood samples obtained at both the first and end-of-study visits. In the ω-3 supplementation group, higher baseline body weight predicted less plasma accumulation of both EPA [B = -0.047, (95% CI = -0.077; -0.017), β = -0.54, p = 0.003] and DHA [B = -0.02, (95% CI = -0.034; -0.007), β = -0.52, p = 0.004]. Similarly, higher BMI percentile as well as BMI category (underweight, normal weight, overweight/obese) predicted less accumulation of EPA and DHA (ps≤0.01). Adherence to supplementation was negatively correlated with BMI percentile [B = -0.002 (95% CI = -0.004; 0.00), β = -0.44, p = 0.019], but did not meaningfully affect observed associations. As intended, the control supplement exerted no significant effect on plasma levels of relevant fatty acids regardless of youth body parameters. These data show strong linear relationships of both absolute body weight and BMI percentile with ω-3 PUFA accumulation in youth. A dose-response effect was observed across the BMI spectrum. Given increasing variability in weight within BMI percentile ranges as youth age, dosing based on absolute weight should be considered. Moreover, effects of weight should be incorporated into statistical models in studies examining clinical effects of ω-3 PUFAs in youth as well as adults, as weight-related differences in effects may contribute meaningfully to inconsistencies in the current literature.

Authors
Lisa M Christian, Andrea S Young, Amanda M Mitchell, Martha A Belury, Barbara L Gracious, L Eugene Arnold, Mary A Fristad

[link url="https://news.osu.edu/news/2017/04/05/weight-supplements/"]Ohio State University material[/link]
[link url="http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0173087"]PLOS One abstract[/link]

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