Fat is a source of calories and energy for the body. Your child needs to have some fat in his diet for good health because:
Fats and oils also help food taste good. Most fats are found in meat, poultry, fish, dairy products, plant oils, packaged foods, and snack foods.
All fats, even healthy fats, are very high in calories. If your child eats more calories than his body can use, he will gain weight. Weight gain increases your child’s risk for high blood pressure, high cholesterol, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and stroke.
Saturated and trans fats are the more harmful fats.
Food manufacturers must list the amount of trans fat and saturated fat on the Nutrition Facts label of packaged foods.
Polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats and oils are healthier fats.
Fatty acids are the building blocks that make up poly- and monounsaturated fats. Three important fatty acids are called omega-3, omega-6, and omega-9.
It is best to balance fatty acids to help prevent health problems. Many Americans eat 10 times as much omega-6 fatty acid as omega-3 fatty acid.
Eating some fat—especially the good fats--is healthy, but many children eat too much and are overweight. The American Heart Association says that children should:
You can cut down on the fat in your child’s diet by teaching your child to eat fewer high-fat animal products, such as red meat, poultry with skin, whole-milk dairy products, and fried foods. Even healthy fats, such as oils, nuts, seeds, and avocado, are high in calories and should be eaten in limited amounts. Encourage your child to eat more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Try to follow these suggestions:
Not all fat is bad, but it can be unhealthy if your child eats too much. Eating a diet low in saturated fat, trans fat, and cholesterol and getting regular exercise will help lower your child’s risk of heart disease. It will also help your child keep a healthy weight or lose weight if your child is overweight.