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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service


item Cullen, Karen
item Lara, Katina
item De Moor, Carl

Submitted to: Journal Of The American Dietetic Association
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 12/1/2002
Publication Date: 12/1/2002
Citation: Cullen,K.W., Lara,K.M., De Moor,C. 2002. Children's dietary fat intake and fat practices vary by meal and day. Journal of the American Dietetic Association. 102(12):1773-1778.

Interpretive Summary: Little is known about children's dietary fat practices, like choosing low fat food items, removing fat from meat before eating, frying foods, and adding fat to foods. In this study, 520 4th to 6th grade children completed food records which were coded for fat practices. Students who reported more high fat practices reported more fat in their diets. Students who reported more low fat practices reported less fat in their diets. These practices also varied by meal and day of the week. In general, less healthful behaviors (greater kcal and high fat practices and lower low fat practices) were reported for weekend meals. Teaching about low fat practices appears to be an important target for dietary interventions.

Technical Abstract: This research examined the relationship between the dietary fat intake and fat practices of children by meal, day of week, and weekend versus weekday. Fourth to sixth grade students (n=520; 25% African-American, 32% Euro-American, 33% Mexican-American, 10% Asian/other, 58% girls) attending eight parochial schools in Houston, Texas. Students completed daily food records (FR) in the classroom for 7 days. Food records were hand-coded for high (e.g. frying foods, adding fat) and low fat (e.g. removing meat fat, drinking low-fat milk) practices, and percent kilocalories from fat. Descriptive statistics, Spearman correlation coefficients, and analysis of variance on fat intake and fat practices by demographic variables and weekend vs weekday. Students consumed 36% of total calories from fat, performed 0.59 low fat practices (LFP), and 6.3 high fat practices (HFP) per day. Only 13% consumed 30% or less kcal from fat. Significant correlations were found between % kcal from fat and high-fat and low-fat practices (r=0.27, P<.001 and r=-0.15, P<.01, respectively). Intervention programs targeting children's dietary fat behaviors should include teaching skills that enable children to ask for low-fat food like fruit, vegetables, low-fat snacks and dairy foods. These foods should be made available in the home to encourage children to practice low-fat dietary behaviors, which may differ depending on meal, day, and meal source.

Last Modified: 10/18/2017
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