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Browsing by Subject "food pattern"

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  • Karonen, Vilja (2023)
    Background and aim Limited global research is available on the nutritional status of preschool-aged children following a vegan diet. Significant disparities in the absorption of animal and plant-based iron call for an investigation into the iron status of vegan children. The aim of the study was to assess the iron status of preschool-aged children and their caregivers following vegan or vegetarian diets compared to their omnivorous counterparts using multiple iron biomarkers. An additional aim was to capture the variation of dietary intake within the diet groups by constructing a dietary variable and exploring its association with iron biomarkers. Methods In a cross-sectional MIRA 2 study 2-6-year-old children following either a vegan, vegetarian or mixed diet, and their family members, were recruited from daycare centres in Helsinki. Parents reported their own and their children's diets and completed a short screener of dietary intake. Haemoglobin, transferrin receptor and ferritin concentrations were analysed from blood samples. The data used in this study included children (N=61) and parents (N=72) who provided a blood sample and answered the background questionnaire. Diet groups were formed based on the screener. Iron biomarker distributions were examined by diet groups with the Kruskal-Wallis test and iron deficiency prevalence was examined using the Fisher’s exact test. Dietary variables were constructed by principal component analysis and linear regression models were used to assess the association between the variables and iron biomarkers. Results Compared to omnivorous children, children following a vegan diet had lower haemoglobin concentrations (median -7 g/L), and children following a vegetarian diet were found to have haemoglobin values below the reference value (<112 g/L) more often. Vegan men had lower ferritin concentrations compared to omnivorous men (median -55 µg/l). Animal-based dietary pattern was associated with higher haemoglobin concentrations in children and ferritin concentrations in men. In women, a negative linear association was found between animal-based dietary pattern and ferritin concentrations. Of all children and women, 26% and 28 % had ferritin concentrations below the reference value (<12/15 µg/L). Conclusions Iron biomarker concentrations of vegetarians and vegans were lower compared to omnivores. While the popularity of plant-based diets is increasing, studies assessing the long-term effects of childhood vegetarian diets are warranted.