Your child’s body actually needs a certain amount and type of fat in his or her diet to absorb some nutrients and for good health. For example, vitamins A, D, E and K are “fat-soluble.” This means they require fat to be absorbed by the body. Fats also are helpful because they provide a sense of fullness or “satiety.” Children under 2 years old are still developing their brain and nervous system, and some fats are important for this process. This is why children under 2 should not drink low-fat (1%) or skim milk.
Certain fats (the so-called “good fats”) can help lower total cholesterol levels. Omega-3 fatty acids are especially beneficial. They seem to decrease certain risk factors for heart disease.
But eating too much fat, and especially certain types of fat, can lead to high cholesterol levels, overweight and obesity. These conditions can lead to a number of other health problems as your child grows into an adult, such as heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure and many others.
The American Heart Association provides these fat guidelines for healthy American children and adults 2 years of age and older:
For packaged food, you can read the Nutrition Facts Label to find out what the food contains, including how much total fat, saturated fat and trans fat.
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American Heart Association. Fats 101. Accessed January 14, 2011
Texas Heart Institute. Heart Disease Risk Factors for Children and Teenagers. Accessed January 14, 2011
Written by familydoctor.org editorial staff