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Lead Levels Higher in Kids with High-Fat Diets

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The most common source of lead poisoning in children is from lead-based paints, but a high-fat diet might make things worse, says a recent study

The most common source of lead poisoning in children is from lead-based paints, but a high-fat diet might make things worse, says a recent study. Maryland investigators found that kids who lived in old, urban houses and who ate the most calories from fat had the highest blood lead levels. Based on this finding, they recommended not only that lead paint from houses be removed but also that children limit their fat intake.

However, Udo Erasmus, author of Fats That Heal, Fats That Kill, points out that there is a difference between good and bad fats. Those fats examined in the study, he says, are largely not essential to health, including saturated, monounsaturated and over-processed oils. "These fats have the property of reacting to form calcium soaps, which are then removed from the body. Less calcium means more lead absorption." In contrast, "omega-3 essential fats, those commonly missing in modern diets, improve calcium absorption, thereby reducing lead absorption." "Fats that kill have opposite effects from fats that heal. The findings of this study must be interpreted with these two stories in mind."

The study was published in the December 2002 issue of Environmental Health Perspectives.

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