A food-exchange model for achieving the recommended dietary intakes for saturated fat in Irish children: analysis from the cross-sectional National Children's Food Survey II

Aileen O'Connor, Maria Buffini, Anne P Nugent, Laura Kehoe, Albert Flynn, Janette Walton, John Kearney, Breige McNulty

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Objective:
To identify the main foods determining saturated fatty acid (SFA) intakes and model the impact of food exchanges to improve compliance with dietary fat recommendations in Irish children.

Design:
Estimated food and nutrient intakes were obtained from a cross-sectional study, the National Children’s Food Survey II. Participants were categorised into low, medium, and high SFA consumers, and the contribution of food categories to SFA intakes were compared. A food-exchange model was developed, whereby a selected range of high SFA foods were exchanged with lower SFA or unsaturated fat alternatives.

Setting:
Participants were randomly selected from primary schools throughout the Republic of Ireland.

Participants:
A representative sample of 600 Irish children (5–12 years).

Results:
The main determinants of low and high SFA consumers were milk, cheese, and butter. These foods, including snack foods, and meat and meat products, were considered exchangeable foods within the model. Compared with baseline data, modelled intakes for total fat, SFA, monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFA) and trans-fat presented decreases of 3.2, 2.7, 1.6 and <0.1% of total energy (% TE), respectively. Polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFA), omega 6, omega 3 and alpha-linolenic acid showed increases of 1.0, 0.8, 0.2 and 0.1% TE, respectively. Compliance with total fat, MUFA and trans-fat recommendations remained adequate (100%). Adherence to SFA and PUFA recommendations improved from 18 to 63%, and 80 to 100%, respectively.

Conclusion:
The food-exchange model decreased SFA intakes and increased PUFA intakes, suggesting modest dietary changes to children’s diets can effectively improve their overall dietary fat profile.
Original languageEnglish
JournalPublic Health Nutrition
Early online date03 May 2024
DOIs
Publication statusEarly online date - 03 May 2024

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