Healthy Eating in Adolescence Sets Pattern For Less Weight Gain As Young Adult

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

David R. Jacobs, Jr., PhD Mayo Professor of Public Health Division of Epidemiology and Community Health, School of Public Health University of Minnesota Minneapolis MN 55454-1075

Dr. David R. Jacobs, Jr.

David R. Jacobs, Jr., PhD
Mayo Professor of Public Health
Division of Epidemiology and Community Health, School of Public Health
University of Minnesota
Minneapolis MN 55454-1075

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?

Response: Project EAT (Eating and Activity in Teens and Young Adults) is on ongoing longitudinal study which began by screening middle and secondary school students in the Minneapolis and St Paul Metropolitan are. Students were the 11-18 years old (average age 15), then followed up at average ages 20 and 25. We had devised an eating pattern in about 2006, which
a) predicts a lot of things in several different studies (including total mortality in the Iowa Women’s Health Study) and b) looks a great deal like the recently released 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA).

We call our diet pattern A Priori Diet Quality Score (APDQS) and think of it as close to or in the style of a Mediterranean/prudent/healthy diet.

We hypothesized that this pattern would be associated with lower weight (in general with better long term health, but the focus in Project EAT was weight and BMI), probably least so at age 15. The minimal hypothesized effect in adolescence relates to the very large energy expenditure in adolescent growth years; we thought that diet composition would be less important for body weight at that time than energy intake (and APDQS is about diet composition).

MedicalResearch.com: What are the main findings?

Response: In fact there was no association of the diet score with weight or BMI at average age 15, but, as hypothesized, those with a higher APDQS gained less weight over the next 5 and 10 years. Those who were above the median APDQS at average age 15 and who improved their APDQS over the next 10 years gained 5.7 kg (12.5 lbs) less than those who had a below median score at average age 15 and whose score worsened over time. People who were intermediate in their APDQS levels and changes were intermediate in their weight gain.

An increase in the APDQS can be achieved by increasing the intake of seeds (beans, coffee, whole grain, nuts), white meat (fish, poultry), plants (tea, fruits, vegetables), and low-fat dairy, while decreasing the intake of processed foods, red meat, sweet and salty foods (eg, salty snacks, soft drinks, sweet breads, grain desserts), and whole-fat dairy. This dietary pattern emphasizes dietary variety (no one food group contributes many points), allows flexibility in choosing among food groups, and makes a maintained, healthy, and enjoyable dietary plan possible to avoid excess weight gain. In addition, the APDQS may be viewed as a collection of diet patterns developed on a single conceptual base rather than a single optimal diet that applies in all situations. This potentially increases its applicability to different populations and settings.
MedicalResearch.com: What should readers take away from your report?

Response: We think it is probable that diet pattern “settles in for adulthood” during childhood and adolescence, that is, food preferences and attitudes may be nearly established by age 15 and probably one can add in that how the young adult gets and prepares food is established by age 20. Not for everyone, of course, but in PROJECT EAT we saw correlation of 0.3 for APDQS between average age 15 and average age 20, while this correlation was higher between average age 20 and average age 25. Therefore the lead-in of parental feeding as child choice matures is important in establishing lifetime diet pattern. Our measure at average age 15 gets at where these young people were in that process.Thus, taken literally, this work suggests that a lot of obesity would be avoided by following the APDQS advice, which, again, is very similar to the 2015 DGA.

The significance and implication is as follows. This is quite a lot of weight difference by age 25 and speaks strongly for the idea that adolescents would do well to follow the APDQS philosophy of eating, which is similar to following the current DGA. Moving forward, health professionals should develop interventions for adolescents to establish and solidify eating behaviors that align with a higher-quality diet. Parents should help their children to achieve higher quality diet by their teen years, recognizing tastes differ as children go through childhood.

MedicalResearch.com: Is there anything else you would like to add?

Response: Moving forward, health professionals should develop interventions for adolescents to establish and solidify eating behaviors that align with a higher-quality diet. Parents should help their children to achieve higher quality diet by their teen years, recognizing tastes differ as children go through childhood.

MedicalResearch.com: Thank you for your contribution to the MedicalResearch.com community.

Citation:

Higher Diet Quality in Adolescence and Dietary Improvements Are Related to Less Weight Gain During the Transition From Adolescence to Adulthood
Tian Hu, MD, PhD,David R. Jacobs Jr, PhD
Nicole I. Larson, PhD, MPH, RD,Gretchen J. Cutler, PhD, MPH,
Melissa N. Laska, PhD, RD ,Dianne Neumark-Sztainer, PhD, MPH, RD
The Journal of Pediatrics
DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jpeds.2016.08.026

Note: Content is Not intended as medical advice. Please consult your health care provider regarding your specific medical condition and questions.

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