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August 2, 2019

UK panel recommends no change to saturated fat intake

The results of a UK review into how much saturated fat should be consumed have been published by a panel advising the country's government.

By Dean Best

UK consumers should continue to ensure saturated fats account for “no more than about 10%” of daily calories, according to a panel that advises the country’s government on nutrition.

The Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition (SACN) has issued the results of a review of the advice given on the consumption of saturated fats handed down in 1994.

SACN has recommended no change to the advice and continues to assert “the dietary reference value for saturated fats remains unchanged: the [population] average contribution of saturated fatty acids to [total] dietary energy be reduced to no more than about 10%. This recommendation applies to adults and children aged five years and older”.

The committee added: “New evidence published since 1994 supports and strengthens the Committee on the Medical Aspects of Food Policy’s conclusion that a reduction in intake of saturated fats from current population average levels would be beneficial.”

The results of the review come amid some research suggesting the consumption of saturated fats does have health benefits. SACN’s review has therefore sparked some criticism. Prominent UK cardiologist Dr Aseem Malhotra described the guidance from SACN as “outdated”.

According to the SACN report, the average intake of saturated fats as a percentage of total dietary energy among UK adults aged 19 to 64 years has fallen since the mid-1980s, when it was around 16% of total dietary energy intake. The committee said there had been no change between 2008/09 and 2016/17.

SACN said date collected between 2008 and 2016 indicated “mean intakes of saturated fats remained above UK government recommendations”. The committee highlighted mean intakes were 12.4-13% among children, 11.9% in adults aged 19 to 64, higher at 12.5% for those between 65 and 74 and at 14.3% for those aged 75-plus.

The research indicated milk and milk products account for 21% of the intake of saturated fat. 

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