Study fuels the fatty foods debate

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Guidelines warning people to avoid eating fatty foods such as butter and cheese should not have been introduced, new research has found.

Dietary advice issued to tens of millions warned that fat consumption should be strictly limited to cut the risk of heart disease and death. But, reports The Guardian, the study says the recommendations, which have been followed for the past 30 years, were not backed up by scientific evidence and should never have been issued. Researchers warned that in characterising saturated fat as the "main dietary villain" public health teams have not paid enough attention to other risks – especially carbohydrates which are believed to be helping to fuel the obesity crisis.

But in a linked editorial, Rahul Bahl, of the Royal Berkshire NHS Foundation Trust, sounded a note of caution. He wrote: "There is certainly a strong argument that an over reliance in public health on saturated fat as the main dietary villain for cardiovascular disease has distracted from the risks posed by other nutrients, such as carbohydrates. Yet replacing one caricature with another does not feel like a solution."

Dr Alison Tedstone, chief nutritionist at Public Health England, said: "This paper is not critical of current advice on saturated fats but suggests that the advice was introduced prematurely in the 1980s before there was the extensive evidence base that exists today…"

Full report in The Guardian Open Heart abstract Open Heart editorial

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