SACN says saturated fats should account for no more than 10% of daily calories

The UK Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition (SACN) says UK consumers should continue to ensure that saturated fats account for “no more than about 10%” of daily calories after revising reviewing advice handed down from 1994.

The SACN said on 1 August that it had reviewed the advice given by the UK’s Committee on Medical Aspects of Food and Nutrition Policy (COMA) on saturated fats consumption.

It recommended no change to the advice, saying “the dietary reference value for saturated fats remained unchanged: the [population] average contribution of saturated fatty acid to [total] dietary energy be reduced to no more than about 10%”.

Professor Paul Haggarty, chair of the SACN’s saturated fats and health working group, of SACN said: “Looking at the evidence, our report confirms that reducing saturated fat lowers total blood cholesterol and cuts the risk of heart disease.

“Our advice remains that saturated fats should be reduced to no more than about 10% of dietary energy.”

Survey data since the 1980s showed that the main sources of saturated fats had changed little in the last 30 years, the SACN said.

Intake of saturated fats had fallen over this time, but it remained above recommendations at around 12% of dietary energy.

National Diet and Nutrition Survey data indicated that mean intakes of saturated fats remained above UK government recommendations.

In 2014-2015 and 2015-2016, the mean intakes of saturated fats as a percentage of total dietary energy were 12.4% to 13% in children (aged four to 18), 11.9% in those aged 19 to 64 years, 12.5% (65-74 years) and 14.3% (75 years and older), the committee said.

According to the SACN, the average intake of saturated fats among UK adults aged 19 to 64 years had fallen since the mid-1980s, when it was around 16% of total calorie intake.

The committee said its recommendations – which applied to adults and children aged five years and older – were consistent with international guidelines including those made in the USA and Australia, and by the World Health Organization and European Food Standards Agency.

Professor Louis Levy, head of nutrition science at Public Health England said: “SACN’s review supports and strengthens current advice. We recommend eating foods high in saturated fat less often and in smaller amounts and swapping to unsaturated fats to help achieve a healthy, balanced diet.”

He added: “We all need to take action, but food manufacturers, suppliers and caterers have a particular responsibility in helping people do this.”

The SACN said data collected between 2008 and 2016 indicated “mean intakes of saturated fats remained above UK government recommendations”.

Cereals and cereal products (mainly biscuits, buns, cakes, pastries, puddings and pizza), milk and milk products (mainly cheese and milk) and meat and meat products were the main contributors to saturated fat intake in all age groups.

The research indicated that milk and milk products accounted for 21% of the intake of saturated fats.