To evaluate the impact of individualized and repeatedly given dietary counseling on fat intake and nutrient intake of children aged 8 months to 4 years.
Prospective randomized clinical trial.
Children (N = 1062) from 1054 families were randomized to an intervention (n = 540) or a control (n = 522) group when each child participant was 6 months old.
The children in the intervention group were counseled to reduce their intake of saturated fat and cholesterol but to ensure their adequate energy intake. Dietary issues were discussed with the families of the children in the control group only briefly according to the current practice of well-baby clinics.
Food consumption was evaluated by using 3- and 4-day food records that were kept at 5- to 12-month intervals, and nutrient intakes were analyzed with a Micro Nutrica computer program (Social Insurance Institution, Turku, Finland).
The intake of fat (29% of the energy intake) and cholesterol (70 mg) showed no differences between the groups of children at 8 months of age. The fat intake in the children in the intervention group was then continuously 2% of the energy intake below that of the children in the control group (P < .001). After the age of 13 months, the cholesterol intake of the children in the control group exceeded that of the children in the intervention group by 20 mg (P < .001). The children in the intervention group consumed 3% (of the energy intake) less saturated (P < .001) and 1% (of the energy intake) more polyunsaturated fats (P < .001) than did the children in the control group at age 13 months and older. The carbohydrate intake was slightly higher in the children in the intervention group than in the children in the control group. Intakes of vitamins, minerals, and trace elements showed no differences between the 2 groups.
The intakes of fat by the children in the intervention and control groups were markedly below values that were recommended for the first 2 years of life. Despite the low intake of fat, the intake of other nutrients fulfilled current recommendations, except for vitamin D and iron. Individualized dietary counseling that led to clear changes in the type of fat intake had a minimal effect on vitamin or mineral intakes.