Clinical study demonstrates impact of nutrition intervention on healthy growth of children

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Long-term use of oral nutritional supplement helps children at risk of undernourishment catch up growth after 9 weeks; impacts nutritional adequacy, dietary diversity, health outcomes and longitudinal growth according to a recent study published on the Journal of Nutritional Science and the Journal of Human Nutrition & Dietetics.

The findings were shared by international and Vietnamese pediatric nutrition experts at the symposium named “Evidence-based Nutrition Solutions for Healthy Growth and Dietary Diversity in Children with Growth Issues” hosted on March 11 by the Vietnam Pediatric Association in cooperation with the global healthcare company Abbott.

Early childhood provides a foundation that impacts the quality of health, well-being, learning and behaviour across the life span. To ensure children development and healthy growth, good nutrition plays an important role. In the meanwhile, conclusive evidence shows that poor nutrition in the early years has a physical and psychological impact that can cause stunting, underweight, micronutrient deficiency, which may have long term impacts.

Long-term use of oral nutrition supplement impacts nutritional adequacy, dietary diversity, reduce children’s number of sick days and longitudinal growth of children at risk of undernourishment.

Children need a variety of foods to meet requirements for essential nutrients, and the value of a diverse diet has long been recognised. Increasing dietary diversity helps ensure children consume all of the essential nutrients that their growing bodies demand, promotes good health and can help reduce the risk of disease.

Since each food group has different nutrients, which children body needs to grow and work properly, experts advise that children who consume a limited food group may face the risk of under-nutrition, growth issues and they need timely nutritional intervention.

“Parents should detect any nutrition issues or abnormal growth of children and talk with doctors to start nutritional intervention if necessary. Timely nutritional intervention can address the immediate causes of under-nutrition, like inadequate dietary intake and some of the underlying causes like children access to food,” said Prof. PhD. MD. Nguyen Gia Khanh, President of Vietnam Pediatric Association.

“Children in the early years of life grow at very rapid rates. Eating a varied and well balanced diet is critical during this period, as consuming a wide range of food groups provides essential vitamins, minerals and other critical nutritional elements that kids need for healthy growth and development,” said Prof. Marion Margaret AW, Department of Pediatrics, National University of Singapore.

The clinical study “Impact of long-term use of oral nutrition supplement on nutritional adequacy, dietary diversity, health outcomes and longitudinal growth of children at risk of undernourishment” is a 48-week intervention study, conducted in 199 children ages 3-4 years between the 5th and 25th percentile for weight-for-height (WHO standards) with measurements at 4, 8, 16, 24, 32, 40, and 48 weeks.

These children received 450 kcal oral nutrition supplement (ONS) daily and dietary counseling at baseline, four weeks and eight weeks. The counseling provided guidelines about food groups, appropriate portion sizes, limiting high-sugar foods, and positive eating environments. Oral nutrition supplementation used in the study is PediaSure, a supplement designed and produced by Abbott Nutrition.

Researchers found that the children caught-up growth after the first nine weeks of the intervention and after the first 16 weeks, their dietary diversity score increased and number of sick days reduced. After 48 weeks, intervention consisting of initial dietary counselling and continued ONS helped sustain normal growth after a catch-up growth in nutritionally at-risk children. Moreover, a combination of initial dietary counseling and ONS was associated with an increased consumption of a greater variety of foods, including fruits, vegetables, and protein-rich items.

“Long-term use of oral nutrition supplement, such as PediaSure, helps promote dietary diversity, fills nutritional gaps and improve overall nutrition status in children at risk of undernourishment,” said PhD. Li Fei from the research and development department at APAC Abbott Nutrition.

“It increases the intake of energy and key nutrients for growth, especially the key nutrients that are found deficient in many Asian children, such as calcium, iron, vitamin A and C. Meanwhile, long-term use of PediaSure does not lead to excessive weight gain and has no negative impact on the consumption of regular family foods,” she explained.

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By Hong Anh

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