In my previous post I discussed saturated fat and obesity, and how it is a travesty that sat fat has for so long been singled out as major cause of this disease. It is not; neither does it cause heart disease. It is unlikely that it is a cause of cancer, either.
There is so much conflicting evidence surrounding fat and heart disease that, in order to resolve the issue once and for all, the World Health Organization and the Food and Agricultural Organization held a joint, four-day expert consultation on the subject of dietary fat and health at the WHO headquarters in Geneva, in November 2008. The aim of this four-day consultation was to consider all the scientific evidence, taken from the most robust studies. The results were published in the Annals of Nutrition and Metabolism. The experts involved in the consultation concluded that “there is no probable or convincing evidence for significant effects of total dietary fats on coronary heart disease or cancers”. A year later, the British Nutrition Foundation reported that the amount of fat in our diet is not linked either to obesity, or heart disease, or cancer.
The WHO et al must wonder why they bother. I too wonder why they bother (but I’m grateful they do). Despite the evidence, The British Heart Foundation currently advise on its website that we should “avoid saturated fats wherever possible”. The NHS website also currently recommends a low-fat diet, on the groundless premise that saturated fat increases cholesterol levels. The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) has produced a booklet for the NHS which advises that, in order to avoid obesity, our diets should be based on starchy foods such as potatoes, bread, rice and pasta. We should choose low fat foods. Of course, a diet based on these starchy foods is notoriously linked to type 2 diabetes, which in turn is linked to .. obesity and heart disease.
FAO/WHO (2008). Joint FAO/WHO Expert Consultation on Fats and Fatty Acids in Human Nutrition (10 – 14 November 2008, WHO, Geneva). Interim Summary of Conclusions and Dietary Recommendations on Total Fat & Fatty Acids.
Skeaff, C.M. & Miller, J. (2009) Dietary fat and coronary heart disease: Summary of evidence from prospective cohort and randomised controlled trials. Annals of Nutrition and Metabolism, 55:173-201.
Sanders, T.A.B. (2010) The role of fat in the diet – quantity, quality and sustainability. Nutrition Bulletin 35(2):138-146.