Fatty acid composition of the diet may influence cardiovascular risk from early childhood onwards. The objective of the present study was to perform a systematic review of dietary fat and fatty acid intakes in children and adolescents from different countries around the world and compare these with the population nutrient intake goals for prevention of chronic diseases as defined by the WHO (2003). Data on fat and fatty acid intake were mainly collected from national dietary surveys and from population studies all published during or after 1995. These were identified by searching PubMed, and through nutritionists at local Unilever offices in different countries. Fatty acid intake data from thirty countries mainly from developed countries were included. In twenty-eight of the thirty countries, mean SFA intakes were higher than the recommended maximum of 10 % energy, whereas in twenty-one out of thirty countries mean PUFA intakes were below recommended (6–10 % energy). More and better intake data are needed, in particular for developing regions of the world, and future research should determine the extent to which improvement of dietary fatty acid intake in childhood translates into lower CHD risk in later life. Despite these limitations, the available data clearly indicate that in the majority of the countries providing data on fatty acid intake, less than half of the children and adolescents meet the SFA and PUFA intake goals that are recommended for the prevention of chronic diseases.
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