Warnings Over So-Called “Fatty Foods” Should Never Have Been Issued

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Researchers now say that global guidelines urging people to cut down on fatty foods should never have been introduced.

The guidelines, which were brought in over 30 years ago, warn people against eating fatty foods such as cheese and butter.

This dietary advice was issued to tens of millions of people in the UK, Ireland and the USA in the late 1970s and early 1980s, warning that consumption of fatty foods must be limited strictly to decrease the risk of heart disease. It suggested that people should reduce their fat consumption to 30 percent of total intake of energy, and saturated fat to 10 percent.

According to experts, the recommendations were not backed up scientifically, and so should never have been introduced to the public. They say that the guidelines lacked any solid scientific evidence to back them.

Experts have warned that placing saturated fat as the “main dietary villain” has prevented public health teams from paying more attention to other risks such as carbohydrates, which are said to be adding to the current obesity problem.

The research paper, which is published in online journal Open Heart, reviewed the available data at the time the guidelines were introduced. It states that it is seemingly incomprehensible that dietary advice was introduced for 56 million UK citizens and 220 million American citizens, considering the converse results from a small amount of unhealthy individuals.

The paper reports that the present meta-analysis results support the hypothesis that the evidence doesn’t support the introduction of the dietary fat guidelines in order to reduce heart disease risk or mortality related to it.

In an editorial linked to the research, Rahul Bahl from the Royal Berkshire NHS Foundation Trust warns that although the argument that public health teams are over-relying on the risks posed by saturated fat over other nutrients (i.e. carbohydrates) is strong, simply replacing one caricature with another may not be a viable solution.

Chief nutritionist at Public Health England, Dr Alison Tedstone, has said that the paper is not critical of any current advice regarding saturated fat, but it suggests that the advice was prematurely in the 1980s.

She went on to say that the advice brought out by the Committee on Medical Aspects of Food Policy (COMA) in 1991 did confirm that consuming too much saturated fat can raise the level of cholesterol, which in turn increase the risk of heart disease.

According to dietary experts, many perceived backtracks on what is or isn’t healthy cause more harm than good, as it is down to individuals.