Dietary fat and cholesterol intake in young children compared with recommended levels

Kerry J. Stewart, Colleen M. Seemans, Linda D. McFarland, John J. Weinhofer, Carol S. Brown

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Purpose. The National Cholesterol Education Program (1991) recommended that children 2 years of age or more derive less than 30% of their daily energy intake from total fat, less than 10% from saturated fat, up to 10% from polyunsaturated fat, and 10% to 15% from monounsaturated fat, and that they consume less than 300 mg/day of cholesterol. The purpose of this study was to assess whether preadolescent children were following these dietary guidelines in 1994 and to determine the relationship of diet to obesity. Methods. This cross-sectional study was performed in elementary schools in southeast Baltimore, Maryland. The subjects were 468 children, grades 2 through 5 (mean age, 8.9 ± 0.8 years). The main outcome measures were a 24- hour diet record, body mass index, and skinfold thickness. Results. Mean percentage of total daily energy (TDE) from fat was 31.1%; saturated fat, 11.0%; monounsaturated fat, 10%; and polyunsaturated fat, 4.9%. Mean dietary cholesterol was 199.1 mg/day. Although the means for total and saturated fat are at recommended levels, the distribution of the dietary responses indicates that 50% of the children exceeded these targets. Twenty-five percent exceeded 35% of TDE derived from fat, and 25% exceeded 13% TDE derived from saturated fat. Fifty percent of children consumed below the desired level of monounsaturated fat, and almost no children consumed the desired 10% of polyunsaturated fat. Although mean dietary cholesterol was at a desired level, 16% of the children consumed more than 300 mg/day and 10% more than 377 mg/day. The negative correlation for sum of skin fold measurements with TDE (r = 0.14; P < 0.05), suggesting that fatter children consume fewer calories than thinner children, was the only correlate among dietary components and obesity. Conclusion. A substantial percentage of children in the United States are still not meeting recommended levels for dietary intake of fat and cholesterol. The trend for fatter children to consume fewer daily calories suggests that obesity is not entirely a result of overconsumption.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)112-117
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 1 1999


  • Children
  • Dietary cholesterol
  • Dietary fat
  • Obesity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Rehabilitation


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