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Adolescents’ Diets should be Low in Fat

Update Date: Jan 08, 2014 02:59 PM EST
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When people diet, they might start to count calories, making sure they do not surpass the daily-recommended value of 2,000 calories per day. Although calories are important in maintaining a healthy diet, there are other nutritional values that can greatly hinder the successes of a diet if they are not monitored as well. According to a new study conducted by UPV/EHU located in Spain, the researchers found that regardless of one's calorie intake and exercise level, excessive fat consumption will lead to greater fat buildup in the abdomen.

For this study, the researchers borrowed 224 participants from the HELENA (Healthy Lifestyle in Europe by Nutrition in Adolescence) study, which gathered over 3,500 volunteers. The HELENA study's goal was to collect information on children's heart health, diets and physical activity levels. The participants were all adolescents who had their abdominal fat measured using a dual x-ray absorptiometry. Their diets and levels of physical activity were also recorded.

The researchers found that regardless of calorie consumption, individual intake of fat was tied to an increase in abdominal adiposity. This relationship occurred independent to physical activity levels as well. High abdominal adiposity has been tied to increasing the risk of cardiovascular problems, high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol and many other diseases.

"Until now it was thought that even with an unbalanced diet, you somehow compensated for it if you got plenty of physical exercise. In this study we have shown that this is not the case," explained Idoia Labayen, PhD holder in Biology and Tenured Lecturer in Nutrition and Food Science at the UPV/EHU's Faculty of Pharmacy and lead researcher in the study reported by Medical Xpress. "Despite the fact that physical activity is usually a prevention factor, in this particular case it is not able to counteract it."

The researchers stressed the importance of maintaining a healthy and balanced diet. They focused on adolescents because this group of people is starting to develop habits that they might stick with for life. If these habits are healthy and good for their bodies, their risks of future health complications could be reduced.

The study was published in the journal, Clinical Nutrition.

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