Wednesday, June 8, 2016

08/06/2016: Is fish really fattening?
by Ioannis Zabetakis

First published in International Aquafeed, May-June 2016

A rather interesting paper has been published recently on the link between fish consumption during pregnancy and child growth. According to the paper titled, Fish Intake in Pregnancy and Child Growth: A Pooled Analysis of 15 European and US Birth Cohorts, the maternal fish intake in pregnancy has been shown to influence foetal growth.

The objective of the authors was to examine whether fish intake in pregnancy is associated with offspring growth and the risk of childhood overweight and obesity. The authors carried out a population-based birth cohort study of singleton deliveries from 1996 to 2011 in Belgium, France, Greece, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Spain, and US.

A total of 26 184 pregnant women and their children were followed up at two-year intervals until the age of six years. The consumption of fish during pregnancy was monitored. The authors estimated that offspring body mass index (BMI) percentile trajectories from three months after birth to six years of age.

They defined rapid infant growth as a weight gain z score greater than 0.67 from birth to two years and childhood overweight/obesity at four and six years as body mass index in the 85th percentile or higher for age and sex. The median fish intake during pregnancy ranged from 0.5 times/ week in Belgium to 4.45 times/week in Spain. Women who ate fish more than three times/week during pregnancy, gave birth to offspring with higher BMI values from infancy through middle childhood compared with women with lower fish intake (three times/week or less).

High fish intake during pregnancy (More than three times/week) was associated with an increased risk of rapid infant growth, with an adjusted odds ratio (aOR) of 1.22 and increased risk of offspring overweight/ obesity at four years (aOR, 1.14) and six years (aOR, 1.22) compared with an intake of once per week or less. The effect of high fish intake during pregnancy on rapid infant growth was greater among girls (aOR, 1.31) than among boys (aOR, 1.11).

Let me explain at this point what Odds ratio (OR) is. The OR is a measure of association between an exposure and an outcome. The OR represents the odds that an outcome will occur given a particular exposure, compared to the odds of the outcome occurring in the absence of that exposure. So, in other words, in the case of high fish intake (more than times/week) and the associated risk of offspring overweight/obesity at four years, where OR was found to be 1.14, with the probability of this occurring is increased by 14 percent.

However, the extent to which fish intake affects childhood growth and obesity remains unclear. Currently, we do not know the eating patterns of the mothers, or their babies used in this study, their overall calorie intake, their lifestyle etc. Therefore, we need to be extremely cautious in linking fish consumption to obesity so the answer to the question of the title of this article is probably not.

Read the magazine HERE.  

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