B4529 - Health effects of diet in young children - 06/02/2024

B number: 
Principal applicant name: 
Geraldine McNeill | University of Edinburgh (United Kingdom)
Dr Alexa Bellows, Dr. Amelia Finaret, Dr Leone Craig, Prof Kate Northstone
Title of project: 
Health effects of diet in young children.
Proposal summary: 

What young children eat can affect their well-being in many ways, and the wide range of food choices and the rising cost of food can make it difficult for parents and carers to choose the best options for their children. The aim of this project is to find out how young children’s diet affects their growth and health as they develop into adults. For example, are children who have more sugary snacks and drinks more likely to be affected by tooth decay or overweight and high blood pressure later in life? Do children who follow a mostly plant-based diet get the right amount of nutrients such as protein for ideal growth? These questions come from a recent UK government review of the gaps in our knowledge on young children’s diets. We will discuss these questions with parents to find out what else they would like us to find out about feeding their children well.
To answer the questions raised we will use information on the diets of pre-school children from two up-to-date national surveys. The National Diet and Nutrition Survey (NDNS) collects information on all foods and drinks consumed over two days as well as the height and weight of children across the UK. Around 1,200 1-5 year-olds are expected to take part between 2019 and 2025. In addition, in 2024 the survey of Diet in Scotland’s children (DISH) will collect information on what around 300 children aged 2-5 years eat and drink and some further questions about their general food habits and household food situation. These surveys will tell us how different types of diets and food choices can provide enough nutrients for health and growth.
To find out how diet in young children affects longer-term growth and health we will use information from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC), a Bristol-based study of 14,000 children born in 1991-2 and their parents who contributed information on the children’s diet and health regularly over the last 30 years. This study will allow us to look at how diet in children under five is related to dental, heart, and lung health when they become young adults. By comparing the diet of young children in ALSPAC with the diet of children in the NDNS and DISH surveys we will be able to assess the changes in children’s diet across the last 30 years.
Studies from around the world have suggested that young children’s diets affect their health throughout their life. This project is designed to provide insights into the importance of these issues in the UK. This will help those who design the programmes and guidance which support all parents and carers to feed their children well.

Impact of research: 
The analysis will inform questions raised by the UK Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition (SACN). Representatives of DHSC will be monitoring the project progress and work plan si that the final report will be able to inform SACN's guidance on feeding of infants and young children in the future.
Date proposal received: 
Friday, 2 February, 2024
Date proposal approved: 
Tuesday, 6 February, 2024
Epidemiology, Diabetes, hypertension, obesity, respiratory, cardiovascular disease, dental caries, Statistical methods, Biomarkers Blood pressure, BMI, bones, cardiovascular, development, dental, growth, nutrition,