Posts tagged with "University of Eastern Finland"

New Study Shows the Development of Insulin Resistance in Children

A new study from the University of Eastern Finland shows that individualised and family-based physical activity and dietary counselling considerably slows down the development of insulin resistance, which is a precursor of type 2 diabetes, in 6–9-year-old children. Published in Diabetologia, the study focused on predominantly normal-weight children.

Insulin resistance refers to the body’s weakened metabolic response to insulin in the target tissues, i.e. in skeletal muscles, adipose tissue and the liver. Insulin resistance is usually the first sign of disturbed glucose metabolism, developing much earlier than abnormalities in pancreatic insulin secretion, elevated glucose levels and, eventually, type 2 diabetes. Earlier studies have shown that physical activity and dietary counselling reduces insulin resistance in overweight and obese children. This new study from the University of Eastern Finland is significant not only scientifically, but also in terms of public health and clinical practice, because it is the first to show that a combination of physical activity and dietary counselling can be used to slow down the long-term development of insulin resistance in children who were predominantly normal-weight at baseline.

More than 500 Finnish children aged between 6 and 9 years at baseline participated in the Physical Activity and Nutrition in Children (PANIC) study ongoing at the University of Eastern Finland. Children and their caregivers in the intervention group were given individualised and family-based physical activity and dietary counselling over a period of two years. Children and their caregivers in the control group, on the other hand, were given instructions on physical exercise and nutrition as per the national guidelines, but no actual lifestyle counselling. At baseline and two years later, the researchers analysed children’s physical activity and sedentary behaviour using the Actiheart sensor that measures heart rate and body movements. Physical activity was also assessed by the PANIC Physical Activity Questionnaire, and dietary factors were assessed by a 4-day food record over four days. Children’s body fat percentage and lean body mass were measured by dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry, DXA. Fasting serum insulin and HOMA-IR were used as indicators of insulin resistance.

The study showed that during the two-year follow-up, increase of insulin resistance was roughly 35% lower in the group that was given individualised and family-based physical activity and dietary counselling than in the control group. The attenuating effect of counselling on insulin resistance was explained especially by changes in physical activity and sedentary behaviour, and slightly less by changes in overall dietary quality and in the consumption of high-fat spreads. Counselling did not have an effect on body fat percentage or lean body mass, i.e. changes in body composition did not mediate the beneficial effect of intervention on insulin resistance.

“This is an interesting finding. The attenuating effect of physical activity and dietary counselling on insulin resistance in children is likely caused by the fact that physical activity and a healthy diet boost metabolism in skeletal muscles, adipose tissue and in the liver, and not so much by a lower body fat percentage or lean body mass,” Professor Timo Lakka, the lead author of the study, says.

Although type 2 diabetes usually develops in adulthood, research suggests that its prevention is best begun already in childhood.

“Increasing physical activity, reducing sedentary behaviour and eating food of better quality should be a priority for all children, not just for those who are overweight,” Professor Lakka points out.

Professor Lakka points out that in addition to body composition measurements, all children should also be asked about their physical activity, sedentary behaviour and diet when they visit a child health clinic or a school nurse.

“Identifying children who have unhealthy lifestyle habits and who are at an increased risk of type 2 diabetes in adulthood would allow a better targeting of measures that are geared towards preventing type 2 diabetes. The best way to collect lifestyle-related data is to use scientifically validated, well-proven digital applications. This would allow the data to be optimally used for promoting children’s health and well-being, and for making scientifically informed decisions,” Professor Lakka says.

For further information, please contact:

Professor Timo Lakka, University of Eastern Finland, Institute of Biomedicine,

tel. +358407707329, timo.lakka@uef.fi

https://uefconnect.uef.fi/en/person/timo-a..lakka/

https://www.panicstudy.fi/

Research article:

Lakka, T.A., Lintu, N., Väistö, J. et al. A 2 year physical activity and dietary intervention attenuates the increase in insulin resistance in a general population of children: the PANIC study. Diabetologia 63, 2270–2281 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00125-020-05250-0

https://news.cision.com/university-of-eastern-finland/r/physical-activity-and-dietar

Raising Children to Eat Greens

Getting children to eat their greens? Both parents need to set an example

A positive example set by both the mother and the father promotes the consumption of vegetables, fruit and berries among 3–5-year-old children, according to a new study from the University of Eastern Finland. The study explored the association of the home food environment and parental influence with the consumption of vegetables among kindergarten-aged children. The findings were published in Food Quality and Preference.

Children eat inadequate amounts of vegetables, fruit and berries across Europe and elsewhere, too. As the health and nutrition benefits of these foods are well-known, increasing their consumption among children is a challenge many countries are struggling with. Dietary habits also track from childhood to adulthood, and the period of early childhood is critical for adapting to a diet rich in greens.

The researchers studied the consumption of vegetables, fruit and berries, and the family’s home food environment, through a survey taken by parents. The study looked at 114 kindergarten-aged children and their parents (100) in Finland. Raw and cooked vegetables and fruit and berries were analysed separately.

The researchers found that to a certain degree, the consumption of vegetables is affected by different factors than the consumption of fruit and berries. Maternal example was associated with the consumption of raw and cooked vegetables as well as with the consumption of fruit and berries. Paternal example, on the other hand, was the strongest for cooked vegetables.

“This shows that teaching children to eat their greens is not something mothers should be doing alone. A positive example set by both parents is important, as is their encouragement of the child,” Researcher and Nutritionist Kaisa Kähkönen from the University of Eastern Finland says.

The study also showed that dinner is the most important meal at home when it comes to teaching children to eat vegetables. The families participating in the study often ate dinner together, highlighting the role of parental influence on the development of children’s dietary choices and preferences.

Dinner constitutes a daily opportunity to serve vegetables in a variety of different forms: as the main course, as a side dish, and as salad.

“Variation can be created by serving raw vegetables, such as the ever-popular cucumber and tomato, accompanied by cooked ones. In fact, many root vegetables, cabbages and squashes are best served cooked,”
Kähkönen says.

When it comes to eating fruit, evening snacks were the most important meal.

The study shows that many families still eat less vegetables, fruit and berries on average than would be beneficial in view of health promotion. Cooked vegetables and berries were the least eaten food items among the study population.

The Institute of Public Health and Clinical Nutrition at the University of Eastern Finland studies how food education in early childhood can support good nutrition among children and promote the establishment of healthy dietary habits.

The newly published study was carried out in collaboration between researchers from the Universities of Eastern Finland, Jyväskylä and Turku. The study was funded by the Jenny and Antti Wihuri Fund.

Risks of an Animal Protein Diet

Diet rich in animal protein is associated with a greater risk of death

A diet rich in animal protein and meat in particular is not good for the health, a new study from the University of Eastern Finland finds, providing further backing for earlier research evidence. Men who favored animal protein over plant-based protein in their diet had a greater risk of death in a 20-year follow-up than men whose diet was more balanced in terms of their sources of protein. The findings were published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Men whose primary sources of protein were animal-based had a 23% higher risk of death during the follow-up than men who had the most balanced ratio of animal and plant-based protein in their diet. A high intake of meat in particular seemed to associate with adverse effects: men eating a diet rich in meat, i.e. more than 200 grams per day, had a 23% greater risk of death during the follow-up than men whose intake of meat was less than 100 grams per day. The men participating in the study mainly ate red meat. Most nutrition recommendations nowadays limit the intake of red and processed meats. In Finland, for example, the recommended maximum intake is 500 grams per week.

The study also found that a high overall intake of dietary protein was associated with a greater risk of death in men who had been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease or cancer at the onset of the study. A similar association was not found in men without these diseases. The findings highlight the need to investigate the health effects of protein intake especially in people who have a pre-existing chronic medical condition. The mean age of the men participating in the study was 53 years at the onset, and diets clearly lacking in protein were not typical among the study population.

“However, these findings should not be generalized to older people who are at a greater risk of malnutrition and whose intake of protein often remains below the recommended amount,” PhD Student Heli Virtanen from the University of Eastern Finland points out.

Earlier studies have suggested that a high intake of animal protein, and especially the consumption of processed meats such as sausages and cold cuts, is associated with an increased risk of death. However, the big picture relating to the health effects of protein and different protein sources remains unclear.

The study is based on the Kuopio Ischaemic Heart Disease Risk Factor Study (KIHD) that analyzed the dietary habits of approximately 2,600 Finnish men aged between 42 and 60 at the onset of the study in 1984-1989. The researchers studied the mortality of this study population in an average follow-up of 20 years by analyzing registers provided by Statistics Finland. The analyses focused on the associations of dietary protein and protein sources with mortality during the follow-up, and other lifestyle factors and dietary habits were extensively controlled for, including the fact that those eating plenty of plant-based protein followed a healthier diet.

High Protein Diet May Increase Heart Failure Risk

For middle-aged men, eating higher amounts of protein was associated with a slightly elevated risk for heart failure than those who ate less protein, according to new research from the University of Eastern Finland. Proteins from fish and eggs were not associated with heart failure risk in this study. The findings were reported in Circulation: Heart Failure.

Despite the popularity of high protein diets, there is little research about how diets high in protein might impact men’s heart failure risk.

“As many people seem to take the health benefits of high-protein diets for granted, it is important to make clear the possible risks and benefits of these diets,” said Jyrki Virtanen, PhD, study author and an adjunct professor of nutritional epidemiology at the University of Eastern Finland in Kuopio. “Earlier studies have linked diets high in protein – especially from animal sources — with increased risks of type 2 diabetes and even death.”

Researchers studied 2,441 men, age 42 to 60, at the study’s start and followed them for an average 22 years. Overall, researchers found 334 cases of heart failure were diagnosed during the study and 70 percent of the protein consumed was from animal sources and 27.7 percent from plant sources. Higher intake of protein from most dietary sources, was associated with slightly higher risk. Only proteins from fish and eggs were not associated with heart failure risk in this study, researchers said.

For this study, researchers divided the men into four groups based on their daily protein consumption. When they compared men who ate the most protein to those who ate the least, they found their risk of heart failure was:

• 33 percent higher for all sources of protein;

• 43 percent higher for animal protein;

• 49 percent higher for dairy protein;

• 17 percent higher for plant protein.

“As this is one of the first studies reporting on the association between dietary protein and heart failure risk, more research is needed before we know whether moderating protein intake may be beneficial in the prevention of heart failure,” said Heli E.K. Virtanen, MSc, first author of study, PhD student and early career researcher at the University of Eastern Finland in Kuopio. “Long-term interventions comparing diets with differential protein compositions and emphasizing differential protein sources would be important to reveal possible effects of protein intake on risk factors of heart failure. More research is also needed in other study populations.”

The Finnish Cultural Foundation North Savo Regional fund, Päivikki and Sakari Sohlberg Foundation, Paavo Nurmi Foundation and The Finnish Association of Academic Agronomists funded the study.

For further information, please contact:

Heli Virtanen, MHSc, early stage researcher, University of Eastern Finland, Institute of Public Health and Clinical Nutrition, tel. +358 400 419477, heli.e.virtanen@uef.fi

Jyrki Virtanen, PhD, adjunct professor, University of Eastern Finland, Institute of Public Health and Clinical Nutrition, tel. +358 294454542, jyrki.virtanen@uef.fi

*Photo courtesy of https://traineracademy.org