Children, teenagers and young adults who experience acute malnutrition, such as a famine, are more likely to develop heart disease later in life.
Researchers studying girls and young women who lived through the Dutch famine at the end of the Second World War have found those who were severely affected by the famine had a 27 per cent greater risk of developing heart disease compared to those unaffected.
Victoria Taylor, senior heart health dietitian for the British Heart Foundation, said: “This study showed a link between children and young adults experiencing famine and the likelihood of them developing heart disease later on in life. Although it wasn’t clear exactly what changes occurred in the body to increase the risk, this highlights how our environment can have a long term impact upon our heart health.
“Fortunately, the problems of famine seen in other countries have not been an issue in the UK in recent times. But that doesn’t make this study irrelevant for us. It adds to the importance of providing a healthy diet for children and young people because of the way it can shape their future heart health.”
The study is published online in the European Heart Journal.