To reduce the amount of saturated fat and cholesterol in children's diets, choose lean meats, fish and poultry (without the skin) and substitute beans, lentils, or tofu for meat 2-3 times per week.

Limit children's intake of white or albacore tuna to no more than 6 ounces per week, and avoid shark, swordfish, king mackerel, and tilefish due to potentially high levels of mercury. Talk with a qualified health care provider or registered dietician about the safety of fish in children's diets.

Reduce the amount of butter, margarine, and salad dressings that the child uses and switch to low- or non-fat milk and yogurt. Avoid giving children cookies, doughnuts, and other pastries as a snack.

Other sources of saturated fats are cheeses, sour cream, cream cheese, and ice cream. Low- or non-fat substitutes for these items (e.g., non-fat frozen yogurt) may be used; however, products labeled "light" may still be high in saturated fat and cholesterol. Talk with a qualified health care provider, licensed dietitian, or nutritionist about how much saturated fat children should have each day.

Many food products targeted to children are made with hydrogenated or partially-hydrogenated oils. These oils contain trans fats, which raise LDL ("bad") cholesterol and decrease HDL ("good") cholesterol and should be avoided.

These fats may be found in French fries from fast food restaurants, some brands of peanut butter, microwave popcorn, cookies, chips, and crackers. Check the Nutrition Facts label and the ingredients lists for trans fats (hydrogenated or partially-hydrogenated oils).

Lifestyle changes can be difficult for children. Be patient and discuss concerns or challenges with a qualified health care provider, registered dietitian, or nutritionist.

Publication Review By: Jagdish Patel, M.D., F.A.C.C.

Published: 28 Feb 2007

Last Modified: 22 Sep 2015