Reducing total fat intake in children may not result in a reduction in weight or BMI

In July 2018 researchers from South Africa published their review of the medical scientific literature to assess the effect of total fat intake on measures of weight and body fat in children and young people not aiming to lose weight. A total of 45 studies were included in the review involving 25,059 children, aged 24 months to 18 years, both with and without risk factors for cardiovascular disease. Results were generally inconclusive. Some studies suggested that as total fat intake increased, body fat also increased. However, varied methods and reporting across the studies, as well as the very low-quality evidence, made it difficult to draw firm conclusions and the true relationship may be substantially different. There was limited evidence that children who received dietary counselling or education to lower total fat intake or who modified fat intake experienced small reductions in BMI, total- and LDL(bad)-cholesterol at some time points despite having no intention to reduce weight. However, no consistent effects on weight, HDL(good)-cholesterol or height were observed. In addition, most studies were conducted in high-income countries, and may not be applicable in low- and middle-income settings.

Naude CE et al. Effects of total fat intake on bodyweight in children. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2018 Jul 5;7:CD012960

Leave a Reply