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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Fat Intake of Children in Relation to Energy Requirements

Author
item BUTTE, NANCY

Submitted to: American Journal of Clinical Nutrition
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: November 1, 2000
Publication Date: November 1, 2000
Citation: Butte NF. 2000. Fat intake of children in relation to energy requirements. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 72(5S):1246S-1252S.

Interpretive Summary: Current recommendations for persons greater than or equal to 2 y of age to consume 30% of energy as fat are sufficient to ensure adequate growth. Lower fat intakes (<30% of energy as fat) may be associated with inadequate intakes of vitamins and minerals and increased risk of poor growth. Diets higher in fat may lead to higher energy intakes and higher body fat. The functional consequences of low-fat diets for infants and children should be evaluated in terms of maturation, immune defense, and neural development. Evidence delineating the role of dietary fat in the development of childhood obesity is conflicting and it is uncertain whether dietary fat recommendations should differ for obese children. A more thorough understanding of the factors that modulate fat metabolism in children would provide a sounder basis on which to determine the optimal fat content in the diets of children.

Technical Abstract: The optimal fat intake for children is discussed in light of their energy requirements. Total energy requirements were estimated from doubly labeled water studies of total energy expenditure (TEE) and the energy cost of growth. Basal metabolic rates (BMRs) were calculated from weight by using the equations of Schofield et al or by indirect calorimetry. Activity energy expenditure and physical activity levels were calculated as TEE-BMR and TEE/BMR, respectively. Weight-specific energy requirements for maintenance and growth changed inversely to the increased energy needed for physical activity in healthy, active children. The total energy requirements of infants increased from 1.4 MJ/d at 1 mo to 4.0 MJ/d at 24 mo. The energy cost of growth decreased sharply from 37-38% to 2% of the total requirement during the first 24 mo of life. Energy requirements increased from 4 MJ/d at 2 y to 11 MJ/d at 18 y in girls and from 5 to 15 MJ/d in boys. The energy cost of growth varied between 1% and 4% of total energy requirements in childhood and adolescence. The current recommendations of 30% of energy from dietary fat for children aged >2 y is sufficient for adequate growth. Lower fat intakes may be associated with inadequate vitamin and mineral intakes and increased risk of poor growth. Diets higher in fat may lead to higher energy intakes and higher body fat, although available data for children are conflicting. Beyond infancy, children can meet their energy needs for maintenance, physical activity and growth from a diet providing 30% of energy from fat.

Last Modified: 9/10/2014