Metabolic needs, utilization and dietary sources of fatty acids in childhood.

C. Agostoni, P. Salari, E. Riva

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Fatty acids are molecules that differ in the length of their carbon chain and the number of double bonds within them. Each of the resulting "families" has its own peculiarities as regards energy, structure and metabolism. Passing from the short, saturated chains to the very long polyunsaturated ones produces an increasing degree of specialization in metabolic and structural functions important for the body's development and general homeostasis. The fetus and neonate (especially if preterm), the breast-fed and weaning baby all need fatty acids in the right amounts and ratios to achieve full expression of their genetic growth potential, especially of nerve tissues. Intake in these age groups depends on dietary factors such as the mother's diet during pregnancy, the type of milk (human or artificial), and the weaning schedule. Later in childhood and in adolescence not only must the body's somatic growth needs be covered, but intake must be adequate to lay the basis for prevention of chronic-degenerative pathologies. Dietary recommendations are therefore based on encouraging a normocaloric feeding pattern, with a controlled total and saturated lipid proportion and balanced intake of unsaturated fatty acids.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-49
Number of pages49
JournalProgress in Food and Nutrition Science
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1992

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Biochemistry
  • Medicine (miscellaneous)


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