Low fat diet: Is it a health risk?

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The Public Health Collaborations, a non-profit organization focused on supporting research and investigating pressing health issues concerning the U.K., has issued a guideline called "Healthy Eating Guidelines & Weight Loss Advice For The United Kingdom." The guideline draws attention to the fact that the U.K. has one of the highest prevalence's of obesity in Europe at 25 percent and that costs the U.K. economy £47 billion a year. On the other hand, there is some debate regarding its view on fat intake, which allegedly contradicts advice suggested by health authorities. In addition, the guideline defends the viewpoint that instead of considering the total saturated fat content in our food, we should focus on general health benefits of food. This hypothesis references studies that have found no association between high intake of saturated fat and increased risk of obesity and cardiovascular disease. The guideline suggests that one-half of the total energy intake in one's diet should come from carbohydrates, and the remainder from fats and proteins. The studies referenced in support of this claim fail to provide adequate information on their methodologies, bringing the reliability of this suggestion into question. Consequently, the guideline is not adequate on its own to lead change in U.K.'s prevailing healthy nutrition guidelines.

Is the guideline scientifically reliable?

Since the guideline is not a review of studies and does not offer adequate information about the reference material, it is not possible to validate its scientific claims.

What do the authorities say about the intake of fat and carbohydrates?

The World Health Organization (WHO) advises maintaining a balance of energy intake and expenditure. WHO recommends that fat intake should not exceed 30 percent of total energy intake. Unsaturated fats are preferred over saturated fats. WHO also indicates that keeping intake of (added) sugars to less than 10 percent of total energy intake reduces the risk of overweight, obesity and tooth decay.

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) recommends that carbohydrate intake for children and adults should not exceed 45-60 percent of the total energy consumed, and fat intake should not exceed 20-25 percent. Like the WHO's recommendation, EFSA suggests that non-saturated fats are preferable to saturated fats. WHO recommendation for contribution of fat intake to total energy as 30 percent is more commonly implemented than EFSA’s 20-25 percent recommendation.

2. http://www.who.int/nutrition/publications/guidelines/sugars_intake/en/
3. https://www.efsa.europa.eu/en/press/news/nda100326

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