Research Article| Volume 25, ISSUE 1, P116-122, January 2015

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Consumption of ultra-processed food products and its effects on children's lipid profiles: A longitudinal study

  • F. Rauber
    Corresponding author. Graduate Program in Health Sciences, Universidade Federal de Ciencias da Saude de Porto Alegre, 245 Sarmento Leite, Anexo I, 2o andar, 90050-170, Porto Alegre, Brazil. Tel./fax: +55 51 33038798.
    Graduate Program in Health Sciences, Universidade Federal de Ciencias da Saude de Porto Alegre, RS, Brazil
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  • P.D.B. Campagnolo
    Departament of Nutrition, Universidade do Vale do Rio dos Sinos, RS, Brazil
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  • D.J. Hoffman
    Department of Nutritional Sciences, School of Environmental and Biological Sciences, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, NJ, USA
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  • M.R. Vitolo
    Department of Nutrition, Universidade Federal de Ciencias da Saude de Porto Alegre, RS, Brazil
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      • Longitudinal analyses of children's dietary intake and lipid profiles.
      • 50% of the energy consumed by children comes from processed and ultra-processed foods.
      • Ultra-processed foods are palatable, addictive and attractive.
      • Ultra-processed foods consumption affects lipid concentrations.
      • Dysmetabolic effect of ultra-processed foods may even manifest themselves in children.


      Background and Aims

      Cardiovascular disease development is related to known risk factors (such as diet and blood lipids) that begin in childhood. Among dietary factors, the consumption of ultra-processing products has received attention. This study investigated whether children's consumption of processed and ultra-processing products at preschool age predicted an increase in lipid concentrations from preschool to school age.

      Methods and Results

      Cohort study conducted with 345 children of low socioeconomic status from São Leopoldo, Brazil, aged 3–4 years and 7–8 years. Blood tests were done to measure lipid profile. Dietary data were collected through 24-h recalls and the children's processed and ultra-processing product intake was assessed. Linear regression analysis was used to assess the relationship between processed and ultra-processed product intake at 3–4 years on changes in lipid concentrations from preschool to school age. The percentage of daily energy provided by processed and ultra-processed products was 42.6 ± 8.5 at preschool age and 49.2 ± 9.5 at school age, on average. In terms of energy intake, the main products consumed were breads, savoury snacks, cookies, candy and other sweets in both age groups. Ultra-processed product consumption at preschool age was a predictor of a higher increase in total cholesterol (β = 0.430; P = 0.046) and LDL cholesterol (β = 0.369; P = 0.047) from preschool to school age.


      Our data suggest that early ultra-processed product consumption played a role in altering lipoprotein profiles in children from a low-income community in Brazil. These results are important to understanding the role of food processing and the early dietary determinants of cardiovascular disease.


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