Being overweight has been identified as the main risk factor for the development of metabolic disorders in adults and children. However, recent studies suggest that normal weight individuals are also frequently affected by metabolic abnormalities with underlying mechanisms not yet fully understood. The aim of the present study was to determine if dietary pattern and markers of intestinal permeability, as well as inflammation, differ between normal weight healthy children and normal weight children suffering from metabolic abnormalities. In total, 45 normal weight children aged 5–9 years were included in the study, of whom nine suffered from metabolic abnormalities. Anthropometric data, dietary intake and markers of inflammation, as well as intestinal permeability, were assessed in fasting blood samples. Neither BMI nor BMI-SDS differed between groups; however, children with metabolic abnormalities had a significantly larger waist circumference (+~5 cm) and a higher leptin to adiponectin ratio. While plasma leptin levels are significantly higher in normal weight children with metabolic abnormalities, neither TNF α nor sCD14, adiponectin, PAI-1 or IL-6 plasma levels differed between groups. Despite similar total calorie and macronutrient intake between groups, mean total fructose and total glucose intake (resulting mainly from sugar sweetened beverages, fruits and sweets) were higher in children with metabolic abnormalities than in healthy children. Time spent physically active was significantly higher in healthy normal weight children whereas time spent physically inactive was similar between groups. Furthermore, bacterial endotoxin levels were significantly higher in the peripheral plasma of normal weight children with metabolic abnormalities than in healthy normal weight children. Our results suggest that metabolic disorders in normal weight children are associated with a high monosaccharide intake and elevated bacterial endotoxin as well as leptin plasma levels, the latter also discussed as being indicative of visceral adiposity.
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