Risk of soy-based diet harming children

The consumption of plant-based foods is increasing in the Nordic countries. Many of these are based on soy, which contains phytoestrogenic substances that may pose a potential health risk to children.

Soy and other plant-based products have a different nutritional composition than animal foods. Researchers at the Danish DTU Food Institute have studied soy-based foods for a number of plant estrogens, including the estrogen genistein which in animal experiments has shown a risk of leading to early puberty and the development of breast tissue. That is why, the researchers have paid special attention to the impact on unborn children (based on the mother's diet) and children in the age group 4-10 years.

Proposed limit values for genistein
Based on the data collected, the researchers propose a limit value for genistein of 0.07 mg per kilogram of body weight for children under 10 years of age and a value of 0.09 mg per kilogram of body weight for pregnant women.

Although the soy-based products have a different nutritional composition than animal products, the researchers' calculations show that the soy-based products largely meet the recommendations in terms of vitamins and minerals.

View the full report Soy intake and possible adverse health effects in Nordic children and pregnant women (unborn children), which has been prepared for the Nordic Council of Ministers.

For more information on phytoestrogenic substances, please contact:

Helle Buchardt Boyd   
Tel +45 4516 9097