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Bamini Gopinath, Victoria M. Flood, Elena Rochtchina, Jie J. Wang, Tien Y. Wong, Paul Mitchell, Sydney Childhood Eye Study; High Consumption Of Carbohydrates And Soft Drinks Is Associated With Retinal Arteriolar Narrowing In Schoolchildren. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2011;52(14):3594.
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Rising prevalence of childhood obesity may be related to increasing consumption of carbohydrates, mainly in the form of added sugars. A link between carbohydrate nutrition and changes to the retinal microvasculature has been demonstrated in adults, but not in children. In the current study, we aimed to assess the association between dietary intake of sugars, carbohydrates and fiber, as well as soft drink consumption, with retinal vessel caliber in children.
The Sydney Childhood Eye Study examined students aged 12 years (2353/3144; 74.8%) from a random cluster sample of 21 schools. Retinal images were taken and retinal vessel caliber quantified using validated computer-based methods. A food frequency questionnaire was used to collect dietary information; energy and macronutrient intakes calculated. We constructed a linear regression model adjusting for age, sex, ethnicity, iris color, ocular axial length, body mass index, mean arterial blood pressure and fellow retinal vessel caliber.
After multivariable adjustment, 12-year old children in the combined highest 2 tertiles of carbohydrate consumption compared with those in the lowest tertile of consumption had significantly narrower retinal arteriolar caliber, adjusted means of 150.2 µm vs 151.5 µm, respectively, P=0.01. Children who consumed soft drinks at least once daily had significantly narrower mean retinal arterioles (by 3 µm) than those who never or rarely consumed soft drinks, multivariable-adjusted P for trend <0.0001. Increasing consumption of soft drinks was also associated with a widening of mean venular caliber (by 1.7 µm), adjusted P for trend=0.04. In contrast, children with dietary fiber intake in the 2 lower tertiles combined compared with those in the highest tertile of intake had significantly narrower retinal arterioles, adjusted means 150.5 vs 151.4 µm, respectively, P=0.02. No significant linear associations were observed.
Data from this sample of schoolchildren suggest that greater consumption of carbohydrates or soft drinks may have a modest but adverse influence on the retinal microvasculature, whereas increased dietary intake of fiber may have a beneficial influence.
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