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Dietary fat and children

Some fat in the diet is needed for normal growth and development. However, many conditions such as obesity, heart disease, and diabetes are linked to excess intake of fat or eating the wrong types of fat.

Children over age of 1 should be offered low-fat and nonfat foods.

Fat should NOT be restricted in babies under age 1.

  • In children ages 1 and 3 years old, fat calories should make up 30-40 % of total calories.
  • In children age 4 and older, fat calories should make up 25-35% of total calories.

Most fat should come from polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats (such as those found in fish, nuts and vegetable oils.) Limit foods with saturated and trans fats (such as meats, full-fat dairy products, and processed foods).

Fruits and vegetables are healthy snack foods.

Children should be taught healthy eating habits early, so they may continue them throughout life.

Alternative Names

Children and fat free diets; Fat free diet and children

References

Maqbool A, Stettler N, Stallings VA. Nutrition. In: Kliegman RM, Behrman RE, Jenson HB, Stanton BF, eds. Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics. 19th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 41.

Kirby M, Danner E. Nutritional deficiencies in children on restricted diets. Pediatr Clin North Am. 2009 Oct;56(5):1085-103.

Update Date: 8/11/2013

Updated by: Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Medical Director and Director of Didactic Curriculum, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, Department of Family Medicine, UW Medicine, School of Medicine, University of Washington. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Bethanne Black, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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