Increased dietary intake of ultraprocessed foods and mitochondrial metabolism alterations in pediatric obesity

Serena Coppola,Lorella Paparo,Giovanna Trinchese, Andrea Margarita Rivieri, Antonio Masino, Anna Fiorenza De Giovanni Di Santa Severina,Mariapina Cerulo,Maria Escolino, Assunta Turco,Ciro Esposito,Maria Pina Mollica,Roberto Berni Canani

Scientific Reports(2023)

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The increased intake of ultraprocessed foods (UPFs) in the pediatric age paralleled with the risen prevalence of childhood obesity. The Ultraprocessed Foods in Obesity (UFO) Project aimed at investigating the potential mechanisms for the effects of UPFs in facilitating pediatric obesity, focusing on the direct role of advanced glycation end-products (AGEs) on mitochondrial function, the key regulator of obesity pathophysiology. We comparatively investigated the daily dietary intake of UPFs, energy, nutrients, dietary AGEs [Nε -(carboxymethyl)lysine (CML), Nε -(1-carboxyethyl)lysine (CEL), and Nδ -(5-hydro-5- methyl-4-imidazolon-2-yl)-ornithine (MG-H1)] in 53 obese patients and in 100 healthy controls visiting the Tertiary Center for Pediatric Nutrition of the Department of Translational Medical Science at the University of Naples “Federico II”. AGEs skin accumulation and mitochondrial function in peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) were also assessed. A higher intake of UPFs and AGEs, energy, protein, fat, and saturated fatty acids was observed in obese patients. Obese children presented significantly higher skin AGEs accumulation and alterations in mitochondrial metabolism. PBMCs from healthy controls exposed to AGEs showed the same mitochondrial alterations observed in patients. These findings support the UPFs role in pediatric obesity, and the need for dietary strategies limiting UPFs exposure for obesity prevention and treatment.
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