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Low-Fat Diets Decrease Children's Nutrient Intake

Well-intentioned parents who limit their child's dietary fat in the name of good health may be depriving their growing son or daughter of essential nutrients.

The study of children with and without high cholesterol found that unsupervised, parent-imposed low-fat diets were also lower in zinc and vitamin E compared with diets that did not restrict fat.  Zinc is a mineral that is essential for growth and development and helps the immune system fight infectious diseases. Vitamin E, an important antioxidant vitamin, may also protect against certain diseases.

There are clinical reports of children who have grown poorly while following unsupervised low-fat, low-calorie diets. Many foods that contain zinc and vitamin E are also rich in fat and saturated fat, including oils, milk, meat and eggs.

Children with high cholesterol consumed significantly more sugar as a result of higher intakes of carbohydrate-rich foods, which tend to be lower in fat.

The researchers concluded that parents should not impose dietary restrictions on children, including those with high cholesterol.

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