The effect of changes in dietary fat on the food group and nutrient intake of 4- to 10-year-old children

Lori Beth Dixon, Jeannie McKenzie, Barbara M. Shannon, Diane C. Mitchell, Helen Smiciklas-Wright, Andrew M. Tershakovec

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


Objective. To determine how young children changed their overall diet when they changed their fat intake after 3 months of participating in a nutrition education demonstration study designed to lower low-density lipoprotein cholesterol and cardiovascular risk. Methods. Three 24-hour dietary recalls were collected from 303 4- to 10-year-old children at baseline and 3 months later. At both times, mean number of servings from food groups, grams of fat contributed from food groups, and intake of calories and nutrients were calculated and compared among quartiles of children formed according to change in their percent of calories from total fat after 3 months. Results. Children who reduced their percent of calories from total fat most (ie, by an average of 8.5%) after 3 months consumed fewer servings from meats, eggs, dairy, fats/oils, and breads but tended to increase their number of servings from lower-fat foods within those food groups, particularly from dairy foods. These children also increased their mean intake of fruits, vegetables, and desserts, and maintained average intakes of all nutrients (except Vitamin D) in excess of two thirds of the respective recommended dietary allowance. Conclusions. Young children who reduced their percent of calories from total fat in accordance with the current National Cholesterol Education Program recommendations accomplished this by reducing their overall intake of higher-fat foods, replacing higher-fat foods with lower-fat foods within several food groups, particularly within the dairy group (eg, drinking skim milk instead of whole milk) and by consuming more servings of fruits, vegetables, and very-low-fat desserts. These behaviors did not compromise their mean calorie or nutrient intakes, showing that it is possible for young children to lower their fat intake safely to reduce their risk of future heart disease.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)863-872
Number of pages10
Issue number5
StatePublished - Nov 1997

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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