Food and Behaviour Research

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Associations of childhood diet quality scores with arterial stiffness and carotid artery intima-media thickness in adolescence/early adulthood: findings from the ALSPAC cohort

Buckland G, Northstone K, Emmett P, Taylor C (2024) The British Journal of Nutrition Jan 5:1-16 doi: 10.1017/S0007114523002763. 

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This study examined the relationship between childhood diet quality and arterial stiffness and thickness during adolescence/early adulthood. Participants were from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC) with dietary data at ages 7, 10 and 13 years and pulse wave velocity (PWV) and carotid intima-media thickness (cIMT) at ages 17 and/or 24 years. Diet quality (DQ) was assessed using five scores: a children's Mediterranean-style diet (C-rMED) Z-score, a children's Dietary Inflammatory Z-score (C-DIS), a DASH diet Z-score, a children's Eatwell Guide (C-EWG) Z-score reflecting UK dietary guidelines and a data-driven obesogenic Z-score. Adjusted regression models examined the associations between DQ scores at 7-13 years and PWV and cIMT at 17 and 24 years. In adjusted models, a high v. low Obesogenic Z-score at 7 and 10 years was associated with higher PWV at 17: β 0.07 (95 % CI 0.01, 0.13) and β 0.10 (95 % CI 0.04, 0.16), respectively. A high v. low C-rMED Z-score at 7 years was associated with lower PWV at 17 (β -0.07; 95 % CI -0.14, -0.01). A high (more anti-inflammatory) vs low C-DIS Z-score at 10 years was associated with a lower PWV at 17 years: β -0.06 (95 % CI -0.12, -0.01). No other associations were observed. In conclusion, an Obesogenic dietary pattern in childhood (7-10 years) was related to increased arterial stiffness, while Mediterranean-style and anti-inflammatory diets were related to decreased arterial stiffness in adolescence. This highlights the importance of establishing healthy dietary habits early in life to protect against vascular damage.


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