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Earlier the better to start healthy diets

A study done in Finland says that young boys fed on a helathy diet had better cardiovascular performance. The results were not positive for girls, but the researchers are optimistic that// this will vary with time. Dr. Olli T. Raitakari, an associate professor of clinical physiology at Turku University is the lead researcher.

"We plan to continue the study at least until the age of 20 years [the oldest children are now 16 years of age]," Raitakari said. "Final conclusions are made after that." The study comprised 1,062 children, the families of 50% were instructed to feed them a diet low in saturated fats starting at 7 months of age. Those parents also received dietary and lifestyle counseling twice a year.

All the families recorded their food intake over four-day periods, twice a year. Those records showed that the children in the families that got counseling consistently consumed 2 percent to 3 percent fewer calories than those in the other group. They also got 2 percent to 3 percent fewer of their calories from saturated fats.

On doing the analysis the result was that analysis "suggests the importance of early and long-term cholesterol control in influencing vascular function," Raitakari said.

"The message is that a healthy diet early in life potentially has long-term benefits," said Dr. Robert Eckel, professor of physiology and biophysics at the University of Colorado, and president of the American Heart Association. "The idea that heart disease starts in the 50s has been substantially discounted. Saturated fat is always an enemy to the arteries, at any age."

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