UK recommendations for dietary fat: should they be reassessed in light of the recent joint FAO/WHO recommendations?

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SummaryIn 2008, the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO)/World Health Organization (WHO) reviewed its recommendations on dietary fat and fatty acids in light of the growing evidence base on dietary fatty acids and health outcomes. These new FAO/WHO recommendations are considerably broader than the current UK recommendations, in that the FAO/WHO report makes separate recommendations for adults and children and sets ranges of intake for n-3 and n-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) based, not only on prevention of deficiency, but also on their role in contributing to optimum and long-term health. The key recommendation of this report is that saturated fatty acids (SFAs) should be limited to 10% of dietary energy intake and, compared with the UK recommendations, there is a stronger emphasis on replacing excess dietary SFAs with PUFAs (both n-3 and n-6) because of convincing evidence that this dietary exchange reduces low density lipoprotein cholesterol and the risk of coronary heart disease. It may therefore be timely to consider the need for a modification of the UK dietary guidelines on dietary fat and fatty acid intake to take account of the growing evidence base for the potential benefit of replacing SFAs with PUFAs.

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