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A reassessment of the fat intake of children from meat and meat products and an estimate of haem iron intakes

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Abstract:

Background

It is possible that fat intake from red meat has declined as a consequence of changes in animal husbandry and butchery practices. In particular, a study of the intake of vegetarian and meat-eating children concluded that their fat intakes were similar, but the most recent information on the fat content of meat was not available. In addition, iron availability is probably as important as the total amount of iron consumed but estimates of haem iron intake are rarely made.Methods

The dietary intake of 50 omnivorous children was reanalysed to produce new estimates of fat and haem iron intakes. Fat intake from meat and meat products only was recalculated using supplements to the food tables not available to the initial survey. Haem iron intake was calculated by discriminating between the different types of meat consumed and estimates of the proportion of iron which is in the haem form.Results

The recalculated diets had significantly lower energy (8.03–7.50 MJ), fat (79–73 g) and carbohydrate (257–237 g) levels. The proportions of energy from fat (36%) and carbohydrate (51%) were unaffected. Meat supplied 3.2 mg (33%) of the iron intake (9.6 mg) of which 1.3–1.5 mg (13–16% of the total) was estimated to be in the haem form. Children may be relatively unaffected by the changes in the composition of meat as such, if they consume highly processed foods which include, for example, rusk, pastry, breadcrumbs and batter.Conclusions

The original estimates of the intake of fat of these omnivorous children from meat and meat products do appear to have been overestimates, but only as the weight of fat consumed not as a percentage of energy. Haem iron was found to supply a substantial proportion of the iron intake of these children and may account for their higher haemoglobin values.

Keywords: fat; food composition tables; haem iron

Document Type: Review Article

Publication date: February 1, 2001

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