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When is it OK to Give Toddlers Low-Fat Milk?

For years we were told not to give toddlers and children anything but whole milk. Their growth and development, especially brain development, were believed to be dependent on it. However, the longstanding debate about giving children low-fat milk as against whole milk has once again raised its head. This time the experts are now telling us that it is OK to give some toddlers and children up to age 12 low-fat milk. According to a report, Lipid Screening and Cardiovascular Health in Childhood, published in the July 2008 issue of Pediatrics, there are instances when low-fat is the best choice for toddlers and children.

New guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) state that toddlers can be given reduced-fat milk (2 percent milk) if they are ?overweight or obese, or have a family history of obesity, high cholesterol or cardiovascular (heart) disease. The new guidelines indicate that children aged 12 months to 12 years old who fall within the category listed do not need whole milk as they may already have adequate amounts of fat. The recommended time to switch for children who fall within the group listed above is between one and two years old.

Experts state however, that children who are vegetarians may still need some amount of saturated fat from whole milk since it is needed for proper growth and development.

The new guidelines in the report are aimed at helping to keep the cholesterol of children at healthy levels. The long-term goal is to keep their hearts healthy. This new low-fat milk recommendation from the American Academy of Pediatrics is just one in a list of recommendations they are offering to improve the cholesterol levels of children.

Also of importance is the recommendation that children?s cholesterol levels should be first tested soon after their second birthday. In fact the AAP and the American Heart Association agree that this is especially important for children who may be at a higher risk for heart disease.

Reading about heart disease in toddlers and children is a bit scary. It means that as parents we need to start paying closer attention to the diet of our children, and get them on the track to better nutrition. What are you doing about it?


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