Researchers Studying Impact of Mediterranean Diet on Children

October 26, 2009
Contact: News Office (415) 502-6397

Researchers at the UCSF Pediatric Clinical Research Center and UCSF School of Nursing are recruiting 20 children — age 8 to 12 who have high cholesterol but are otherwise healthy — for a study on the benefits of the Mediterranean diet, a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts and olive oil.

The children will be asked to follow a Mediterranean diet for six months, and to visit the research center every six weeks or a total of five times during the six-month period. During each visit, children will have a Mediterranean-style breakfast and lunch. The center is located at UCSF Children’s Hospital, 505 Parnassus Ave, in San Francisco.

During each of the visits to UCSF, children will be checked for blood pressure, height and weight; and will have a blood test and an ultrasound scan of a blood vessel in the arm. In addition, participants will be asked to:

  • Keep a record of food eaten for three days
  • Take a daily omega-3 fatty acid (fish oil) supplement for six weeks

Children and their parents will learn about the heart-healthy Mediterranean diet and how to shop for food and prepare meals for the diet.

Children will receive study-related testing as well as dietary counseling and education at no cost. Toys, games, hats, T-shirts and heart healthy food products will be provided. Free parking and meals will be given at each visit.

This study is being funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and will begin in January 2010.

Researchers include Marguerite Engler, Ph.D., and Mary Engler, Ph.D., both professors of physiological nursing in the UCSF School of Nursing; and Dr. Michael Cabana, chief of General Pediatrics at UCSF Children's Hospital.

Many studies in adults have shown that a Mediterranean diet and omega-3 fatty acids, or fish oil supplements, lower cholesterol levels and the risk of heart disease. This study is being conducted to determine if the diet and supplements can improve the heart health of children with high cholesterol.

To participate, please contact Carrie Boghosian, research coordinator, by calling (415) 514-0304 and leaving a message with your name and phone number, or by email.