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Full fat vs Low fat

(50 Posts)
upndown Sun 24-Mar-13 16:05:37

Clearly not an AIBU post, but, I posted a thread on here a few weeks back regarding my overweight daughter (6) (and can't find original thread) and was given some great advice.

I have cut down on too much fruit, smoothies and swapped refined carbs for unrefined - all with success and minimal fuss from my daughter.

I was given advice that I should avoid low fat products and opt for small amounts of full fat. This seemed crazy but I understood the concept behind it and have been allowing my daughter a glass of FF milk to drink and some with her weetabix too. Also, FF cream cheese for a sandwich.

She seems less puffy, still no significant weight loss though. I am trying to make changes a little at the time but she definitely could do with being more active..

Other changes I have made is giving her more protein.

The problem I have, is my daughter received a leaflet from school with advice from change 4 life, advising parents to switch to skimmed milk, low fat yoghurt's and products, up the fruit intake and switch to rice cakes for a healthy alternative. Now, all these things were what I was doing previously!!!

So I am completely baffled now. The guidelines for healthy eating for children are so misleading! I hear all the time that the 5 fruits/veg a day was a marketing campaign, yet the guidelines insist that you have it. I read on one particular website that children of all ages NEED full fat milk, and that fat is not the enemy, sugar is. Yet again, this leaflet insists that fat IS the enemy!

I'm trying desperately to do the right thing for my little girl, but now I am questioning myself again with regards to the full fat vs low fat!

Can anyone enlighten me, or direct me to a trustworthy website!

Many thanks - if you got this far!

Yama Sun 24-Mar-13 16:09:28

Sugar is poison. No-one could argue with that statement.

We subscribe to the full fat and real food way of eating rather than low fat processed food.

Keep going with your changes and throw the leaflet in the bin.

Gatorade Sun 24-Mar-13 16:11:33

Would it be possible for you to see a dietician through your GP? That might help to get specific advice for your daughter.

Personally I think your original plan sounds great, low fat alternatives are normally packed full of sugar and a little full fat would therefore be healthier. I do however think milk is an exception to this, semi skimmed milk doesn't have added sugar/additives to make it taste better so you could make that swap and stay healthy. The same goes for reduced fat natural yoghurt (ones without added colours, flavours etc...although I'm not sure a 6 year old who is used to sweetened yoghurts would go for a low fat plain Greek yoghurt!)

Good luck with sorting this out, you sound really dedicated and I'm sure you will be making a real positive change to your daughters future health.

ilovepowerhoop Sun 24-Mar-13 16:13:15

both my kids (age 6 and 9) have semi-skimmed milk but from the age of 5 you can actually give them skimmed milk. They do have full fat yoghurts, cheese, etc. It wouldnt do any harm to give lower fat products especially if you have cut down on other sugary foods and increased protein intake

sarahtigh Sun 24-Mar-13 16:14:22

children under 2 should have full fat milk and semi-skimmed until at least 5 maybe older

a lot of low fat yogurts etc replace fat with sugar so are not more healthy

some fat is essential, some carbohydrate is essential but sugar is not essential

there are good and not so good for you fats and carbs

at 6 my opinion is semi - skimmed milk and when she has cheese normal cheese just an appropriate portion

fruit has more calories than veg so if you eat 3 pieces of fruit a day as snacks rather than part of meals you could be having too many calories

also drinking fruit juice/ smoothies/ milk all add more calories without really filling you up an apple and glass of water fills you up more than 1 glass of apple juice

some school advice is wrong as they are giving out adult healthy eating messages which is not always correct for young children ie too much fibre

as an aside rice cakes are awful

guidelines are misleading and seem to change frequently

HumphreyCobbler Sun 24-Mar-13 16:14:44

this official advice makes my blood boil. It is rubbish angry

Stick to your new plan, it sounds great. I remember your thread.

MardyBra Sun 24-Mar-13 16:15:02

fuzzpig Sun 24-Mar-13 16:15:03

Your original thread

Well done for making the changes - looks like you'll have great success with it all! smile

HumphreyCobbler Sun 24-Mar-13 16:15:56

Full fat milk is ONLY 4% fat. It is a low fat food ANYWAY. I have read you need the fat in the milk to process some of the nutrients properly.

sammisatt Sun 24-Mar-13 16:17:28

It sounds like you are doing everything right. The fact she looks less puffy (water retention caused by sugar) is a sign that the weightloss will be slow and safe. The low fat theory is such a load of bollocks. Fat is actually good for you and fills you up and curbs cravings.sugar and refined carbs will just make her feel empty and starving.

IslaValargeone Sun 24-Mar-13 16:19:28

I too would swap to the semi skimmed as like Gatorade says, it doesn't have added sugar to make up for the missing fat.
Definitely check labels on yogurts as the low fat ones are often super high in sugar.
Rice cakes (although better than biscuits obviously) are quite high GI so don't always provide a good snack for a child as the energy isn't spread out. An apple and a few almonds would be great.
Does she like cheese? If so and you are making a cheese sandwich, grate the cheese, you will use less of it than if you slice. I think that would make a better alternative to full fat cream cheese spread.

BelleEtLaBaby Sun 24-Mar-13 16:19:36

Full fat milk is still only about 3% fat. So full fat milk is a low fat product, if you see what I mean?

Low fat products are full of sugar and other chemicals. I dieted for years on low fat etc and couldn't understand how I ended up gaining every time. That much sugar, sweetener and chemicals was playing havoc with my system and since stopping all that and switching back to ff milk and yoghurt, eating more natural food and less refined sugar and carbs, I have actually lost a little weight. I'm a grown up so I don't know if it might be different for a 6yo. Is she very much overweight? I'm no expert but my instinct would say feed her natural foods, ff milk etc and focus on exercise to help her lose weight. Sports, dance, family bike riding etc?

PuppyMonkey Sun 24-Mar-13 16:26:02

Skimmed milk is the work of the devil, as if any child is going to like such vile stuff. Will put her off milk for life. Long as she's eating healthy fruit veg and etc, full fat milk will be fine - or semi.

tazzle22 Sun 24-Mar-13 16:28:47

excess sugar and carbs seems to be the reason why many people, incliding children are overweight and develop things like T2 diabetes.. Its a long time since my children were young but it has been quite a revleation to reflect recently about how much my diet for many years that included mostly low fat products did more harm with its higher carb count...... since concentrating on lowering carbs I have lost more weight in the last few months than in many many years. !!!

with kids you might not notice as much weigh loss ( depending on how overweight ) as thye are growing and if its not much then its will just even out, she will "grow into" the weight iyswim

Its flipping hard to know what the "right" advice is as there is much conflict.... research changes.... peoples opinions differ etc. Personally I dont have much faith in official guidance since I was changing because of impending diabetes .....decided against eating reccomending carbs if my body cant deal with them lol.

just look at all the advice and try and take a middlle road and see if it works wink

Talkinpeace Sun 24-Mar-13 16:28:51

Read the ingredients list on the side of a pack of "0% fat" yoghurt.
Now read the side of a "full fat" (ie 6%) yoghurt.

Low fat foods are generally MUCH more processed and have hidden sugars (sugar is not a fat and is dirt cheap so is used a LOT in processed food)

MUCH of standard dietary advice has little or no scientific foundation.
"Breakfast is essential" - for Kellogs and for Nestle but not for most adults.
"Eat three times a day" Not if you are not hungry - that way obesity lies
"Eat every few hours or you'll be unwell" Really? do you get up at 3am to eat?

Healthy, simple foods are MUCH better than ANY processed stuff

Beamur Sun 24-Mar-13 16:34:08

It is confusing isn't it. Like sarahtigh says though, some products remove fat but then replace it, often with sugar or aspartame to make it taste nice - neither of which are exactly brilliant nutritionally for children. As an adult, if you need to lose weight you might decide to suffer aspartame for a bit, but I wouldn't chose to feed it to my child.
Any kind of milk is fine for kids - FF, semi skimmed or skimmed if they like it.
I think the change 4 life thing is based around perhaps the idea that a calorie is a calorie - regardless of where it comes from - so by switching to these types of food you may reduce your calories and help weight management.
Being mindful of portion size, eating real food - not processed and being more active are all better for long term health and weight.

lambinapram Sun 24-Mar-13 16:37:33

Dr John Briffa gives great advice:

some of his posts on childrens health and low fat diets are interesting:

He explains why the advice in the leaflet you were given is out of date and plain wrong.

SoftKittyWarmKitty Sun 24-Mar-13 16:38:18

There was a great three-part series on BBC2 last year called 'The Men Who Made Us Fat'. It researched the way that big food corporations operate and how, in response, our eating habits have changed over the past 30-40 years, resulting in a huge increase in the consumption of junk food and a rise in obesity. As a response to this, big food corporations are now selling us so-called 'healthy' foods, which are far from healthy but they are sold in to us as such. The conclusion of the programme was that sugar is the enemy but it was more in-depth than I can explain here. Try to get hold of a copy, it was very illuminating. It might be on YouTube or BBC player.

Also try to remember that if it's good for you, it won't need advertising. If they have to advertise it, chances are you don't need it. That goes for most things, not just food smile.

SolomanDaisy Sun 24-Mar-13 16:42:14

I got weaning/child nutrition leaflets from both the UK and the place where I live and a lot of the guidance was completely contradictory. The local one said to use fat free as soon as you start using cow's milk dairy products. I guess there is no international consensus!

Talkinpeace Sun 24-Mar-13 16:47:31

Also try to remember that if it's good for you, it won't need advertising. If they have to advertise it, chances are you don't need it.
You are so right : its the equivalent of the bad restaurants in a resort having 'hookers' outside to grab punters in, but the good restaurants not needing them.

thezebrawearspurple Sun 24-Mar-13 16:49:25

Low fat products usually have sugar replacing the fat. Ignore the official advise and avoid sugar. Fat is fine in moderation, it gives you energy, fills you up quickly and tastes nice. Just watch the portion sizes.

As for exercise, could you invest in a trampoline? Any dance or gymnastic classes she could go to? You could even do dance on wii. Take her out for a brisk walk every day. Aim for as much running, jumping, moving about as possible everyday. Children are supposed to be constantly moving.

mutantninjamyrtle Sun 24-Mar-13 16:57:46

From the BMJ - they only studied toddlers, mind. I'd just give her full fat stuff - she'll get full and stay that way longer. Plus a fair bit of protein.

Skimmed/semi-skimmed milk does not curb excess toddler weight gain

In fact, it’s associated with overweight and obesity in pre-school kids

[Longitudinal evaluation of milk type consumed and weight status in pre-schoolers Online First doi 10.1136/archdischild-2012-302941]

Switching to skimmed milk in a bid to curb excess toddler weight gain doesn’t seem to work, indicates research published online in the Archives of Disease in Childhood.

The American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Heart Association recommend that all children drink low fat or skimmed milk after the age of 2 to reduce their saturated fat intake and ward off excess weight gain.

But the evidence to back up this stance is somewhat mixed, say the authors, who wanted to find out whether milk consumption patterns among 2 year olds affected weight gain.

Researchers asked the parents/primary caregivers of almost 11,000 children about their milk consumption - skimmed, 1% semi-skimmed, 2% milk fat, full fat, or soy - when the children were 2 years old and again when they were 4.

All the children were taking part in the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, which is tracking the long term health of a representative sample of US children born in 2001.

Additional detail was requested when the children were 4, including how much and how often they drank not only various types of milk, but also fruit juice, squash, fizzy drinks and sports drinks, so that they could calculate the fat and sugar intake from these sources. The children were also weighed and measured at both time points.

At both time points, the prevalence of overweight/obesity was high, affecting around one in three of the children (30% of 2 year olds; 32% of 4 year olds).

The prevalence of skimmed/semi-skimmed milk consumption was also higher among the overweight/obese kids, with 14% of heavy 2 year olds and 16% of heavy 4 year olds drinking it, compared with 9% of normal weight 2 year olds and 13% of normal weight 4 year olds.

The average weight of children who drank 2%/full fat milk was also lower than that of kids who drank skimmed/semi-skimmed milk, even after accounting for other influential factors.

When the researchers looked at weight gain trends over time, they found no overall differences between those who drank skimmed/semi-skimmed milk and those who drank 2%/full fat milk.
This suggests that low fat milk confers no overall advantage, although it is possible that overweight kids might have gained more weight had they not drunk it, suggest the authors.

Nevertheless, those who regularly drank skimmed/semi-skimmed milk who were not overweight or obese at the age of 2 were 57% more likely to become so by the age of 4.

The authors point out that the higher prevalence of skimmed/semi-skimmed milk consumption among overweight/obese children might reflect a parental wish to trim these children’s waistlines, as logic would suggest that lower fat intake equals fewer calories.

But they suggest that perhaps the reality is more complex. Milk fat may increase a feeling of fullness so reduce the appetite for other fatty/calorie dense foods, they say.

Rather than recommending low fat milk, it may be better to stick with other weight control options for which the evidence is sound, such as cutting down on TV watching and sugary drinks, and increasing exercise and fruit and vegetable intake, they suggest.

Montybojangles Sun 24-Mar-13 17:00:30

Gram for gram fat contains most calories, but full fat milk is still relatively low fat. We do need some fat in our diets to remain healthy, and fat generally keeps us feeling full (as does the protein). Please ask your gp for a referral to a paediatric dietitian, I'm sure they can best advise you. Good luck.

upndown Sun 24-Mar-13 17:01:09

Thank you all for your responses! It's just so frustrating.

Incidentally, my daughter is learning about nutrition in her class at the moment. I was thrilled as it has helped her understand the importance of the changes we have made without highlighting the fact that she is ridiculously overweight. I was able to combine her learning project with the changes and she has been very accepting. But, to then get a leaflet (completely unrelated to their topic as it was given to the whole school) undoing everything that we have taught her seems pathetic.

For those who never read my original thread, my daughter is wearing size 10-11 clothes! and I take full responsibility for her weight gain.

I may give her FF milk with cereal and semi skimmed for a drink. I'll see how that goes.

With regards to the GP, I may just do that. I guess I'm a bit dubious because as a long time sufferer of PCOS with insulin resistance, they would not refer me to a professional and insisted I was not sticking to my diet plans. It took for me to research my own diet plan (a healthy and realistic one) and finally the weight fell off. I have visions of them passing me the Change 4 life leaflet for her!!

Thanks again!

Wheresmycaffeinedrip Sun 24-Mar-13 17:03:01

To be honest low far stuff is often far less satisfying so you eat more trying to get that something it's lacking if that makes any sense.

Plus what they take out in fat they add in sugar salt and god knows what else that's actually worse for you. For example eating take a quiche. If you bought full fat it would be tastier and more rich but as a result you would have a small slice. If u bought a low fat one it would be less filling and have that sweeter sugary salty taste which u might well eat more of.

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