Dietary fat and children

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Alternative Names

Children and fat-free diets; Fat-free diet and children

Information

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 eating too much fat or eating the wrong types of fat.

Children over age of 2 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 to 40 % of total calories.
  • In children age 4 and older, fat calories should make up 25 to 35% of total calories.

Most fat should come from polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats. These include fats 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.

References

Ashworth A. Nutrition, food security, and health. In: Kliegman RM, Stanton BF, St Geme JW, Schor NF, eds. Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics. 20th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2016:chap 46.

Parks EP, Maqbool A, Shaikhkhalil A, Groleau V, Dougherty KA, Stallings VA. Nutritional requirements. In: Kliegman RM, Stanton BF, St Geme JW, Schor NF, eds. Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics. 20th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2016:chap 44.

Version Info

  • Last reviewed on 8/14/2015
  • 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, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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