Dietary guidelines on total fat and saturated fat? Wrong!

Dietary guidelines were first introduced in the US in the early 80’s and then spread throughout the public policies of most of the developed world. The main goal for which they were established was to decrease the incidence of coronary heart disease by reducing the total daily fat intake to 30% of total daily energy and daily saturated fat intake to no more than 10% of the total daily energy.

Recently, the British Journal of Sports Medicine published an analysis with sharp criticism of those guidelines. The analysis, penned by Dr. Harcombe from the Institute of Clinical Exercise and Health Science (Hamilton, UK), examined four reviews of evidence for the guidelines: randomised controlled trial and prospective cohort evidence at the time the guidelines were introduced; and randomised controlled trial and prospective cohort evidence currently available.

The results of Dr. Harcombe were hardly surprising, unfortunately. The evidence supporting the need to demonize fats was lacking at the time of the introduction of dietary guidelines and the current evidence doesn’t provide no additional support either. Opposition to the guidelines is becoming more strident. Substantial increases in diet-related illness over the past four decades, particularly obesity and type 2 diabetes, indicate that a review of dietary advice is warranted.


Harcombe, Z., 2017. Dietary fat guidelines have no evidence base: where next for public health nutritional advice?. British Journal of Sports Medicine, 51(10), pp. 769-774.

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