PhD project within the Industrial Doctoral School at Umeå University.
What we eat during the first years of life is of great importance to our health in the long term. In her research project, Ulrica Johansson investigates several important collaborative health factors such as growth, nutritional status, intestinal flora, eating behavior, food intake and body composition in infants 6-18 months with a focus on Nordic healthy food.
The PhD position is financed by the external party Semper AB and the Industrial Doctoral School. The distribution between the parties is 50/50.
Dietary factors during infancy, including high protein intake, rapid carbohydrates and saturated fat, increase the risk of obesity, blood lipid disorders, type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure later in life. However, today's dietary advice for young children is based on tradition and experience, while research is basically lacking.
The taste, texture of supplementary food and how it is served is important for how and what the child eats. Towards the end of the first year of life, children normally begin to show increasing suspicion of vegetables and fruits.
However, these are an important part of what is healthy to eat. By systematically introducing fruit and vegetables into small children's diet, one can increase the intake of these foods when the child gets older, but when and how best to do this is unclear.
New Nordic food, an initiative from the Nordic Council, emphasizes a greater intake of fruit, berries, vegetables, whole grain products, fish and game, and less intake of sweets, milk products, meat and poultry. In adults, this diet improves weight and blood values associated with insulin resistance and cardiovascular disease. Since preferences for different flavors are founded early on, it is logical to introduce such a diet already when the child starts getting used to solid food.
In a randomized study with children from 4-6 months of age up to 18 months, we want to investigate whether an additional diet based on Nordic food with reduced protein content, increased amount of vegetable fats and a systematic introduction of fruit and vegetables improves body composition (the proportion of fatty tissue), indicators of insulin resistance and other metabolic markers, the composition of the intestinal flora (associated with the risk of overweight and several disease states) and the desire to try new healthy foods to lay the foundation for good eating habits and health at an early stage.
The study is interactive and contains educational elements for custodians. If the results are as expected, they will have a direct impact on Swedish children's dietary habits during and after their infancy, and hence their health in the long term.