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SACN publishes consultation on saturated fats and health

Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition is consulting on a draft review of saturated fats, recommending intake should not exceed 10% of daily calories.

Public Health England sign

The Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition (SACN) has today, Tuesday 8 May 2018, published a consultation on its draft review of saturated fats and their effects on health.

The last review was undertaken by SACN’s predecessor Committee on Medical Aspects of Food Policy (COMA) in 1994 and concluded that saturated fat intake should be no more than 10% of total calories for adults and children aged 5 years and older.

SACN’s draft review has concluded that new evidence supports and strengthens the original COMA conclusion and is, therefore, recommending no changes to current government advice.

Based on the total evidence considered, SACN’s draft recommendations are:

  • the population average contribution of saturated fat to total calorie intake should be no more than 10%. (This means no more than 30g of saturated fat for men, no more than 20g for women and less for children)
  • 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].

Too much fat in the diet, especially saturated fats, can raise blood cholesterol levels, which can increase the risk of heart disease. Most of our saturated fat intake comes from milk products (such as whole milk and cheese), cereal products and meat products.

Currently, average saturated fat intake is around 12% of daily calories, however, this is still too high and should be reduced to 10% to avoid preventable illnesses and premature death.

The draft SACN report concludes that reducing saturated fat lowers the risk of cardiovascular disease. It also improves blood lipids and measures of blood glucose control. There is no evidence that reducing intake of saturated fat increases risk of any of the health outcomes considered (cardiovascular disease, blood lipids, blood pressure, diabetes, dementia and some cancers).

Dr Alison Tedstone, chief nutritionist at Public Health England, said:

Consuming too much saturated fat leads to higher cholesterol levels and heart disease. Current advice is to consume no more than 10% of calories each day from saturated fat and this remains unchanged until we have considered all the responses to our consultation.

Once all responses have been received, SACN will publish its final report and will make recommendations to government.

The consultation opens today, Tuesday 8 May 2018, and closes 3 July 2018.

Published 8 May 2018