Study questions guidance on fat consumption in diets

10 February 2015        

Bread and butter New research has questioned dietary guidance about the consumption of fat designed to reduce the number of people affected by coronary heart disease.

People in the UK and US are advised to keep their overall fat consumption to 30 per cent of their daily energy intake and their saturated fat to 10 per cent. 

The study looked at whether results of randomised control trials supported the introduction of guidance in the late seventies and early eighties. They concluded that there was insufficient evidence to do so. But the British Heart Foundation believes that only looking at these types of trials oversimplifies the difficult and complex task of developing evidence based guidelines on nutrition. 

Our Senior Dietitian Victoria Taylor said: “Understanding the true relationship between diet and our health is not simple. Unlike drug trials, studies on diet and disease are difficult to conduct. It would be all but impossible to carry out a research trial where you controlled the diets of thousands of people over many years. 

“That’s why guidance in the UK is based on a consensus of the evidence available not just on randomised controlled trials.

“We continue to recommend switching saturated fat for unsaturated fat. This is consistent with a Mediterranean style diet, which is associated with a lower rate of coronary heart disease, and research that has demonstrated a link between increased consumption of saturated fat and raised cholesterol levels. We know that raised cholesterol is a risk factor for coronary heart disease.

“When so much attention is placed on the role of fats in our diet it’s vital we remember that dietary advice on preventing and managing coronary heart disease doesn’t begin and end with it. 

“Coronary heart disease is a multifactorial condition and no single food or nutrient is solely responsible for addressing our risk through diet. As well as the fats we eat we also need to pay attention to our diet as a whole and the balance of foods within it.”