Federal Officials Urge Low-Fat Diet for All

March 07, 1990 1 min read

Washington--Federal health officials last week recommended for the first time that all children over 2 years of age and all adults follow a low-fat, low-cholesterol diet as a way of reducing their risk of developing heart disease.

The recommendations that Americans consume no more than 30 percent of their calories as fat and limit their cholesterol intake to less than 300 milligrams per day were included in a report by a task force organized by the National Cholesterol Education Program, a part of the National Institutes of Health.

The report marks the first time the nih has recommended that all Americans, including young children and those not at high risk of developing heart disease, alter their diets.

According to the report, the average American consumes about 36 percent of his calories as fat. Also, women consume an average of 304 milligrams, and men an average of 435 milligrams, of cholesterol a day, the report stated.

The report estimated that if Americans were to meet the new guidelines for fat and cholesterol, they would reduce their blood cholesterol levels by an average of 10 percent, resulting in a 20 percent reduction in heart disease.

The National Research Council last year recommended that children over age 2 follow the same diet as adults, and limit their fat intake to 30 percent or less of the calories they consume. In 1988, the nutrition committees of the American Heart Association and the American8Academy of Pediatrics reached the same conclusion.

Recommendations for Children

Officials said the Children’s Panel of the ncep will release more specific recommendations on what children should eat later this year.

The findings were endorsed by 38 federal agencies and health organizations, including the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which oversees the school-nutrition programs.

The Congress last year passed a bill requiring the usda and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to develop nutritional guidelines to distribute to food-service authorities within two years. The Agriculture Department is charged with ensuring that the guidelines are implemented.--ef

A version of this article appeared in the March 07, 1990 edition of Education Week as Federal Officials Urge Low-Fat Diet for All