Health effects of dietary fats – Is it a matter of quantity or quality?

Background

In the past, research focused mainly on the health effects of major classes of dietary fatty acids (i.e. polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFA), monounsaturated fatty acid (MUFA), saturated fatty acid (SFA), and trans fatty acid (TFA). However, today more and more research puts the spotlight on the health effects of individual fatty acids within these classes, including specific SFA. Recent data are challenging the old dogma that intake of specific classes of fats must be limited. The time is ripe to update the scientific knowledge on different dietary fats and health and to investigate the apparent discrepancies between effects of different fatty acids within each class.

Objectives

This new task force aims to collect and review recent scientific publications on the effects of the intake of dietary fats on human health, both when they occur as part of food or as individual fatty acids. Another aim is to assess dietary recommendations that may differ largely between countries as some are food-based dietary guidelines and others are nutrient-based guidelines.

Expected Impact

Ultimately, this task force could provide an evidence-based perspective on future trends for health / risk benefits associated with fats in food sources and in individual fats. This output will be used to improve food quality and this will pave the way forward for future strategies in food policies and the food processing chain in Europe.

What’s New

The first activity of this task force will evaluate the rationale of current fat dietary recommendations.

Task Force Members

Dr Marjolijn Bragt – Chair FrieslandCampina NL
Dr Wendy Blom Unilever NL
Ms Agnès Meheust Danone FR
Dr Mathilde Fleith Nestlé CH
Dr Nils Billecke Cargill BE
Ms Lilou van Lieshout ILSI Europe BE

 

Expert Groups

Update on Health Effects of Different Dietary Saturated Fats – NEW

Objectives

Recent data are challenging the old dogma that the intake of all saturated fatty acids must be limited to reduce risk of cardio-vascular diseases. The proposed first activity aims to review the most recent scientific data on different types and sources of saturated fatty acids (SFA) and their cardiovascular health consequences. To do this, the expert group will make an inventory of current dietary recommendations and food-based guidelines on SFA intake. It is important to assess dietary recommendations as they may differ largely between countries; some are food-based dietary guidelines and others are nutrient-based guidelines. The main goal of the activity is to explain the commonalities and discrepancies in recommendations and guidelines of SFAs due to different rationales or interpretations of the scientific background in order to improve foods and the food chain in Europe.

Activity

SFAs in the diet come in various types and from different food sources. These differences may influence effects of SFA on blood lipids and risk of heart disease. A critical review of recent (last 5 years) literature in this area will summarise and explain the commonalities and discrepancies of current nutrient-based recommendations and food-based guidelines on SFA types and sources. This will raise questions and hypotheses for future research. An evidence-based perspective on future trends for health / risk benefits associated with SFA food sources and individual SFAs will be developed.

Expected Output

This activity will provide suggestions for product reformulation and innovations. The document will serve as a basis for academics, the nutrition community, international and national organisations. Further, it could be translated into lay language for consumers by relevant organisations.

Expert Group Members

Update on Health Effects of Different Dietary Saturated Fats – NEW

Prof. Julie Lovegrove – Chair University of Reading UK
Prof. Ronald Mensink – Vice-Chair University of Maastricht NL
Prof. Tanju Besler Eastern Mediterranean University TR
Dr Nils Billecke Cargill BE
Dr Wendy Blom Unilever NL
Dr Marjolijn Bragt FrieslandCampina NL
Dr Mathilde Fleith Nestlé CH
Ms Agnès Meheust Danone FR
Dr Nita Forouhi University of Cambridge UK
Prof. Philippe Legrand National Institute of Agricultural Research (INRA) FR
Ms Lilou van Lieshout ILSI Europe BE