Project Details

Early Career

Status: Funded - Open

Dietary protein in early childhood and the development of adiposity

Trudy Voortman, PhD


BACKGROUND: Protein is an indispensable component of infant and child nutrition, as it provides essential amino acids required for growth. However, a high protein intake in early childhood has been linked to a higher risk of obesity – the ‘early protein hypothesis’.

GAP: Although trials have shown that a high protein intake in infancy increases body mass index, it is not clear whether this reflects a higher fat mass or a difference in lean mass. Furthermore, it is not clear whether this effect of early-life diet continues into later childhood, what protein subtypes are responsible for this effect, and what the role is of later childhood diet in attenuating the effect of early-life diet.

HYPOTHESIS: We hypothesize that a high protein intake in infancy is associated with adiposity, that this persists into later childhood, and that a healthy diet in later childhood can only partly reduce the harmful effects of high protein intake in early childhood on later adiposity.

METHODS: This research will be embedded in the Generation R Study, an ongoing prospective population-based cohort in Rotterdam, the Netherlands among almost 10,000 mothers and their children. Diet, anthropometrics, and body composition were measured repeatedly during childhood and new data collection is ongoing. Associations will be examined using multivariable linear mixed models, in which we will consider a wide range of sociodemographic and lifestyle confounders.

RESULTS: Pending

IMPACT: The results of this study can inform the development of evidence-based dietary guidelines for young children and reformulation of infant formulas and toddler foods and may thereby contribute to reducing the incidence of childhood adiposity on a population level.

Website Link: https://www.linkedin.com/in/trudyvoortman

Supervising Institution:
Erasmus University Medical Center

Oscar Franco

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