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Fat in Food: How much for Children?

Most nutrition experts agree that childhood is the best time to start cutting back on total fat, saturated fat and cholesterol. Fat is an essential nutrient that supplies energy, or calories, they need for growth and active play. Between the ages of two and five, encourage them to gradually choose foods with less fat and saturated fat. By age five, their overall food choices, like yours, should be low in fat. Saturated fat is more solid at room temperature. It comes mostly from animal sources, such as butter, cheese, bacon and meat, as well as stick margarine. Caution: A low-fat eating plan is not advised for children less than 2 years of age because of special needs for rapid growth and development during these years.

Good Nutrition: It’s a Juggling Act

For healthful eating, offer foods from the five major food groups of the Food Guide Pyramid. Most young children, age two and over, need the minimum number of serving from each food group. A child-size serving is one-fourth to one-third the size of an adult portion. Encourage nutrient-rich foods with less fat: grain products; fruits; vegetables; low-fat dairy foods; and lean meats, poultry, fish, and cooked dry beans. Offer your child many different food-group foods. Be flexible; what children eat over several days, not one day or one meal, is what counts. Remember that forcing children to eat food doesn’t work, and neither does forbidding foods. Foods that are “forbidden” just may become more desirable for children. Sweets and high-fat snack foods are okay in appropriate portions. Just make sure your child is offered wise food choices from all the food groups.


  • Restricting a child’s eating pattern too much may harm growth and development, or encourage undesirable eating behaviors.
  • Before making any drastic changes in a child’s eating plan or physical activity habits, talk to your child’s pediatrician or a registered dietitian.
  • Don’t restrict fat or calories for children less than two years of age, except on the advice of your child’s pediatrician.

Get Up and Move

Too much television usually results in not enough physical activity or creative play. Pediatricians recommend limiting TV time to no more than one or two hours each day. Be active. Join your children in doing other activities.

Information on this site is intended for Angel Kids Pediatrics patients only. Always consult your doctor before beginning, modifying, or discontinuing any treatment plan.

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