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J Am Diet Assoc. 1995 Jul;95(7):759-64.

Fat preferences and fat consumption of 3- to 5-year-old children are related to parental adiposity.

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Division of Nutrition Sciences, University of Illinois, Urbana, USA.



To examine differences in preferences for high-fat foods, dietary fat intake, anthropometric measurements, and parental body mass index (BMI) among 3- to 5-year-old children.


Children's fat intake was measured using 30-hour weighed food intake data from a standard menu. Children's fat preferences were assessed using a subset of foods from the standard menu. We obtained parents' BMI scores and children's anthropometric measurements including weight-for-stature, triceps, and subscapular skinfolds.


Participants were children 3 to 5 years of age (n = 18, 10 girls and 8 boys; mean [+/- standard deviation] age = 52 +/- 1.9 months) who were without food allergies, food sensitivities, or chronic illness, and the children's parents (18 mothers and 16 fathers).


Correlational analyses and maximum likelihood contingency tables were used to examine children's fat preferences and fat intake, children's anthropometric measurements, and BMI scores of parents.


Although all children were offered the same daily menu, children's dietary fat intakes ranged from 25% to 42%. Children indicating strong preferences for high-fat foods had high total fat intakes (r = .54, P < .05; chi 2 = 3.96, df = 1, P < .05). Children's fat preferences were also related to their triceps skinfold measurements (r = .61; P < .01). Finally, those children with the strongest preferences for high-fat foods (r = .75, P < .01; chi 2 = 10.68, df = 1, P < .05) and the highest total fat intakes (r = .67, P < .01; chi 2 = 5.28, df = 1, P < .05) had heavier parents than did children with low scores.


Offering children a nutritionally adequate diet is necessary but may not be sufficient to ensure dietary quality; children's food preferences are influential determinants of macronutrient intake. The association of children's fat preferences and intake with parental adiposity suggests that dietary influences may mediate familial patterns of adiposity.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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