MacronutrientsNewsletterPublic Health

SACN report on saturated fat

Saturated fat is under the spotlight at the moment. Between February 28th and March 30th 2018, the US dietary guidelines committee invited input from the public about a number of nutrients, including saturated fat (Ref 1). I submitted a response (Ref 2). Soon after that, I received correspondence from Canadian doctors and academics asking to share my response as Canada also seemed open to information. I submitted the same response to Canada and received an email reply from Canada’s Director General, for the Office of Nutrition Policy and Promotion, on April 18th saying “There is convincing evidence that lowering saturated fat and replacing it with unsaturated fats, reduces LDL cholesterol and lowers risk of cardiovascular disease.” Not quite so open minded then.

On May 4th 2018 the World Health Organisation announced a “Call for public comments on the draft WHO Guidelines: Saturated fatty acid and trans-fatty intake for adults and children” (Ref 3). Submissions are required before June 1st, so they aren’t bothered about giving people time to prepare considered comments. Arguably the UK was ahead of the game as it invited input into a review of “Saturated fats and health” back in the autumn of 2016. The submission guidelines stated that only systematic reviews/meta-analyses would be considered, so between August 2016 and March 2017 (as they were published) I submitted my PhD papers (Ref 4). I received an email on May 8th 2018 announcing that the draft report was now open to final consultation until July 3rd. You can see the draft report here (Ref 5).

There are 233 pages, so I’ll focus on the following: 1) the background to and remit of the panel; 2) the aspects of health under consideration (and why this is interesting); 3) saturated fats and cardiovascular disease (and why this is the only relevant factor); 4) where the panel went wrong; and 5) why the panel might have gone wrong – also known as “conflicts of interest.”


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