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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Study: Cut Fat Intake Sooner

CHICAGO -- It's almost never too early to cut fat out of your diet, according to Finnish researchers who say fat intake can safely be reduced in children under 2 years old.

U.S. guidelines recommend that parents not limit their children's fat intake until age 2, when they are urged to keep fat consumption under 30 percent of daily calories. Doctors traditionally have believed that very young children need fat for proper development.

But the study of 1,062 Finnish youngsters aged 8 months through 4 years old found they fared well even when their fat intake was cut back shortly after the child's first birthday.

The study in February's Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine follows research indicating that diet-linked damage to coronary arteries probably begins in early childhood, leading to heart disease later in life.

It suggests that efforts to prevent adult heart disease could begin as soon as children are weaned.

"Obviously, the current recommendations grossly overestimate the needs of fat intake'' in the first two years of life, wrote the researchers, led by cardiorespiratory researcher Hanna Lagstrom at Finland's University of Turku.

Dr. Jan Berger of the Northwestern Medical Faculty Foundation in Chicago said she remains unconvinced by the study, and contends that limiting fat intake in such young children could harm their neurological development.

But the authors noted that except for vitamin D and iron, vitamin and mineral intakes were adequate among children with reduced-fat diets.