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Diet

Starting babies on Nordic Diet can help prevent child obesity

"This diet is safe, feasible and exposes infants to a variety of flavors which may influence long-lasting food preferences."

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By Mark Waghorn via SWNS

Starting babies on the 'Nordic Diet' holds the key to beating child obesity, according to new research.

Ready for baking peeled colorful raw carrots with fresh thyme herb, with salt pepper and balsamic vinegar cream on the spotted vintage ceramic plate over metal surface. Top view.
Nordic vegetables are rich in fiber, such as turnip, beets, swede, root celery, carrots, parsnip, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower and kale.
(Pedal to the Stock/Shuterstock)

It is rich in low protein foods like berries, fish, root vegetables and whole grains - and instils healthier eating habits.

Infants four to six months old were fed taster portions - as well as breast or formula milk.

A year later they were eating almost double the number of vegetables than those fed conventional baby foods.

Lead author Dr. Ulrica Johansson, a paediatrician at Umea University in Sweden, said there did not appear to be any side effects.

autumn berries on table, lingonberry raw closeup
Typical fruits in the Nordic Diet include lingonberry, buckthorn berry, cranberry, raspberry, and blueberry. (Head over Heels/Shutterstock)

She said: "A Nordic diet with reduced protein introduced to infants naive to this model of eating, increased the intake of fruit, berries, vegetables, and roots, establishing a preferable eating pattern lasting over a 12-month period.

"There were no negative effects on breastfeeding duration, iron status or growth."

The World Health Organisation has said we could lower rates of cancer, diabetes and cardiovascular disease by embracing a Nordic-style diet.

Obesity now affects 1 in 5 children and adolescents in the United States, according to the CDC.

Dr. Johansson and colleagues followed 250 babies through to 18 months of age. The trial found marked differences in dietary habits in the two groups.

Inlagd sill - delicacy in Europe, and has become a part of Baltic, Nordic, Dutch, German
The Nordic Diet is abundant in whole grains, vegetable fats and oils, fish and eggs and lacking in meat, dairy and sugar.
(Chatham172/Shutterstock)

Parents of those on the Nordic diet were supplied with homemade recipes, protein-reduced baby food products and they were offered support via social media.

The infants consumed 42 to 45% more fruit and vegetables at 12-18 months of age, compared to those who were fed the conventional diet currently recommended by the Swedish Food Agency.

While fruit consumption within the conventional group remained consistent, babies fed the conventional diet reduced their vegetable intake by 36% between 12-18 months.

Babies on the Nordic diet had an average protein intake 17-29% lower than those on the conventional diet at 12-18 months of age.

This was still within recommended protein intake levels and the overall calorie count between the two groups was the same.

assorted of berry fruit on wood background
The team found that a reduction in protein had no negative side effects on the babies. (Chatham172/Shutterstock)

The protein reduction in the Nordic diet group was replaced by more carbohydrates from vegetables, not more cereals, together with some extra fat from rapeseed oil.

Dr. Johansson said there did not appear to be any negative effects from having a lower protein intake.

She added: "A Nordic diet reduced in protein is safe, feasible and may contribute to sustainable and healthy eating during infancy and early childhood."

The novel research could pave the way to broadening the taste spectrum in infants and potentially provide an effective strategy for encouraging healthier eating habits early in life.

The Nordic diet has a higher intake of regionally and seasonally produced fruit, berries, vegetables, herbs, mushrooms, tubers and legumes.

It's also abundant in whole grains, vegetable fats and oils, fish and eggs - and lacking in meat and dairy foods, sweets and desserts.

Typical fruits include lingonberry, buckthorn berry, cranberry, raspberry, and blueberry.

Nordic vegetables are rich in fiber, such as turnip, beets, swede, root celery, carrots, parsnip, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower and kale.

Professor Jiri Bronsky, of ESPGHAN (European Society for Paediatric Gastroenterology Hepatology and Nutrition), said: "The authors have shown a significant effect of the diet in 12 and 18 months of age of the children.

"The Nordic diet group consumed more fruit and vegetables and less protein than the control group.

"The Nordic diet was well tolerated and did not negatively affect growth of the child or breastfeeding duration.

"Importantly, this research demonstrates that this diet is safe, feasible and exposes infants to a variety of flavors which may influence long-lasting food preferences."

The Nordic Diet is similar to the Mediterranean Diet - except it is based on foods that grow better in cold rather than warm climates. The findings were presented at an ESPGHAN meeting in Copenhagen.

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