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Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Fats: the good, the bad and the ugly
Article Type: Food facts From: Nutrition
Despite recent high-level awareness campaigns aimed at cutting fats from the nation's diets, especially trans (ugly) fats, greater emphasis should be made to reduce saturated (bad) fat intake. This will help heart disease rates continue to fall. Heart and circulatory disease remains the UK's biggest killer. The Department of Health report that the 2010 target to reduce this cause of death by 40 per cent is on track, but this is not consistent across the UK, due to health inequalities. Heart disease is the most common cause of premature death in the UK, causing over 100,000 deaths a year this compares to around 33,000 deaths from lung cancer which is the next biggest killer.
Diet is one of the nine modifiable risk factors that accounts for 90 per cent of heart attacks worldwide. The type and amount of fat we eat is a key aspect of a healthier diet to prevent heart disease. The National Diet and Nutrition Survey shows that we are eating less saturated fat, but the level is still too high. Currently, the nation's intake of saturated fat stands at 13.3 per cent of total food energy against a recommended total intake of 10 per cent and has been linked with an increased risk of heart disease. Saturated fat usually comes from animal sources and is found in things like lard, butter, hard margarine, cheese, whole milk and anything that contains these ingredients, such as chocolate and pies. It is also the white fat found on red meat or underneath poultry skin; and at room temperature becomes solid. Trans fats are artificially created through a chemical process of the hydrogenation of oils and are typically found in margarines, cakes, pastries, biscuits, processed foods and deep fat fried fast food. In recent years, trans fats have risen to the top of the food and health agenda as a number of studies have linked trans fats to heart disease. Subsequently, food manufacturers, governments and consumers are increasingly concerned about trans fats, as they do more harm than good.
However, most people eat a lot more saturated fat than trans fats. The National Diet and Nutrition Survey shows that the nation is already eating less "ugly" fat. Most people in the UK do not eat large amounts of trans fats; their intake now is about half (1.2 per cent) the recommended maximum (2.0 per cent of total food energy). For more information contact The British Dietetic Association.