Role of fats in the first two years of life as related to later development of NCDs

C. Agostoni, M. Caroli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Aims: Compared to exclusive breastfeeding, the introduction of solids leads to a reduction of dietary fats. We explore the hypothesis that dietary fats consumed in the 6-24-month period might have later effects on non-communicable disorders and health. Data synthesis: We have considered studies on dietary fats as substrate for oxidation and energy production, effects on adiposity, blood lipoprotein levels and features of the metabolic syndrome, and the possible influences on brain development and function. Fat oxidation, despite a high initial dietary supply, is greatly suppressed and only gradually increases after birth. There is no evidence of any convincing association between fat intake during the 6-24-month period and later indices of adiposity. Fat quality may affect the blood lipoprotein picture at short-term through the first 12 months of life. In a large Finnish trial, a moderately restricted fat diet started at 7 months, with an increased unsaturated/saturated fat ratio, has shown favourable effects on serum cholesterol values, indices of insulin resistance and endothelial function especially in boys, and had no negative effects until the age of 18 years. The dietary supply of docosahexaenoic acid might affect brain development as well as some features of the metabolic syndrome. Conclusions: In the 6-24-month period, the amount of fat intake does not show associations with later health conditions, and relatively high-fat diets do not seem to be harmful. Fat quality may have later effects on chronic-degenerative processes that need to be explored more in depth.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)775-780
Number of pages6
JournalNutrition, Metabolism and Cardiovascular Diseases
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2012


  • Complementary feeding
  • Dietary fats
  • Docosahexaenoic acid
  • Fat metabolism
  • Fat quality
  • Infant diet

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Nutrition and Dietetics
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


Dive into the research topics of 'Role of fats in the first two years of life as related to later development of NCDs'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this