While parents may be increasingly worrying about
childhood obesity, they must ensure their offspring eat enough
fat, research from the US urges.
Concerns about their child becoming overweight
means some parents put them on low-fat diets, but the Nutrition
Journal study said this was misguided.
Researchers found children burned substantially
more fat than adults relative to their calorie intake.
Youngsters needed that fat to grow and thrive,
Over a third of a child's energy intake should
be made up of fat, the researchers at Pennsylvania State University
said, a recommendation in line with UK requirements.
"Despite this, many parents and children restrict
fat for health reasons," they said. "Sufficient fat must be
included in the diet for children to support normal growth and
All of the participants - 10 children and 10
adults - were put on the same diet, adjusted to estimated calorie
requirements of each one.
During testing, none of the group led an active
lifestyle. They spent their time watching films, reading, and
taking occasional slow walks.
While the children did not use up more fat
than adults in total, they burned up substantially more relative
to the amount of energy they used, despite all participants'
UK nutritionists stressed fat, as much as possible,
should come from "healthy" sources such as oily fish, while
chips and crisps should be cooked in olive or sunflower oil.
"Too much saturated fat in the diet, e.g. from
cakes, biscuits, pastries and fatty meats, should be avoided,"
said Claire Williamson of the British Nutrition Foundation.
The National Obesity Forum welcomed the study.
"I think this research is absolutely right,"
said board member Tam Fry. "Young children need more fat and
energy for the whole purpose of growing and living.
"To give them low-fat and sugar-free products
is a bad idea."