Government body faces criticism as it launches consultation on reducing saturated fat

Benedict Jephcote
Wed, 09 May 2018
Government body faces criticism as it launches consultation on reducing saturated fat
Leading health experts have voiced concerns after the government's Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition (SACN) put out an open consultation over its intention to maintain guidelines aimed at reducing saturated fat intake.

The SACN's approach is to keep the current UK dietary guidelines on saturated fat that limit their recommended intake to 10% of overall energy intake. This level of saturated fat works out as about 30g for men, 20g for women and less for children.

They state that currently it is estimated that the average person gets 12% of their energy intake from saturated fat. Therefore maintaining the guidelines would aim to reduce saturated fat intake across the country.

The SACN draft review also states that: "Dietary saturated fats should be substituted with unsaturated fats. [Foods like fish (especially oily fish such as mackerel, salmon and trout), unsalted nuts, seeds and avocado are sources of unsaturated fat]."

It is worth noting that all of the sources of unsaturated fat mentioned are also good sources of saturated fat too.

The proposal is likely to be met with bewilderment from many people with diabetes that have achieved excellent improvements in their health from switching to a low carb, higher fat, real food lifestyle.

Since the consultation opened, health experts have been quick to point out that there is no good evidence to suggest that saturated fat is harmful.

Dr Carrie Ruxton tweeted: "HEALTH EFFECTS: Sat fat is not linked with any cancers, CVD/CHD mortality, stroke, cognitive impairment, blood pressure, risk type 2 diabetes. 'Adequate' evidence that sat fats reduce CVD/CHD events as well as total, LDL but also 'good' HDL cholesterol."

Dr Zoe Harcombe is a researcher who submitted evidence to SACN in March 2017, over a year ago. When the consultation opened, she voiced her dismay that her evidence was not given due consideration: "In March 2017 I submitted evidence on saturated fat to a 'Scientific' Advisory Committee on Nutrition. They either didn't understand it, or they ignored it!"

Dr Harcombe has a Phd in public health nutrition which included a systematic review and meta-analysis of the evidence used to draw up the low fat guidelines of the USA and UK in the years 1977 and 1983 respectively. Her evidence drew the conclusion that no strong evidence existed to support the move to reduce fat and saturated fat intake.

The SACN's consultation is open between Tuesday 8 May and Tuesday 3 July 2018. The consultation is to invite "comments on the scientific content of the draft report 'Saturated fats and health' and its supporting documents".
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