Get access

Food-based recommendations to reduce fat intake: An evidence-based approach to the development of a family-focused child weight management programme


R Gehling, Flinders University, Department of Nutrition and Dietetics. GPO Box 2100 Adelaide, SA 5001, Australia. Fax: +61 8 8204 5693; email:


Objectives:  To develop food-based recommendations to lower fat and energy intake for use in a family-focussed weight management programme for 6–9 year old children.

Methods:  Secondary analysis of the 1995 National Nutrition Survey (NNS95) informed the development of food-based recommendations aiming to reduce fat and energy intake. Each recommendation was used to progressively modify a model 3-day high fat dietary intake with the accumulative effect on energy and nutrient intake of each recommendation assessed.

Results:  Six to nine-year-olds in the NNS95 consuming 35–45% energy as fat (n= 280) consumed more total energy (mean ± SD, 8671 ± 2741 vs. 7571 ± 2328 kJ/day) than children consuming a ‘low fat’ (23–27% energy as fat, n= 85) diet (P < 0.002). Food-based recommendations found to be most effective for reducing energy and fat intake included; changing to reduced fat milk, reducing intake of cereal-based and snack foods and replacing juice or soft drink with water. These changes, together with avoiding adding fat to vegetables and using sources of lean meat, reduced energy intake by ∼10%, total fat intake by ∼30% and saturated fat intake by 53%.

Conclusions:  Modifying six areas of food choices results in a moderate reduction in fat and energy intake. An eating pattern that is consistent with Australian dietary guidelines and uses foods commonly eaten by children is achievable for children aged 6–9 years. These food-based recommendations provide an evidence-based dietary framework for prevention and management of overweight in children.