Federal dietary guidelines shouldn't place limits on total fat intake, experts say in a new report that cites the latest scientific research showing some "good fats" are beneficial to health.
In an editorial published in the Journal of the American Medical Association
, nutrition researchers from Tufts University and Boston Children's Hospital call on the federal government to drop existing restrictions on total fat consumption in the forthcoming 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, Medical Xpress
The report’s chief authors — Dariush Mozaffarian, M.D., dean of the Friedman School, and David Ludwig, M.D., director of the New Balance Foundation Obesity Prevention Center at Boston Children's Hospital — note that current dietary guidelines recommend that only up to 35 percent of daily calories should come from fat.
But the 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans Committee (DGAC) — a group of independent scientists convened by the federal government to review current scientific and medical literature on nutrition — dropped that recommendation in a draft report issued in February.
By the end of this year, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services will issue final Dietary Guidelines for Americans — recommendations that should not advise urge low-fat diets, Drs. Mozaffarian and Ludwig argue.
“Placing limits on total fat intake has no basis in science and leads to all sorts of wrong industry and consumer decisions,” Dr. Mozaffarian said. “Modern evidence clearly shows that eating more foods rich in healthful fats like nuts, vegetable oils, and fish have protective effects, particularly for cardiovascular disease.
“Other fat-rich foods, like whole milk and cheese, appear pretty neutral; while many low-fat foods, like low-fat deli meats, fat-free salad dressing, and baked potato chips, are no better and often even worse than full-fat alternatives. It's the food that matters, not its fat content."
For obesity prevention, the DGAC recommends shifting the focus from total fat intake to eating a healthier diet loaded with vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts, seafood and beans; and fewer meats, sugars, and refined grains.
“When U.S. guidelines began recommending low-fat diets in 1980, people responded by turning to low-fat or non-fat products, away from healthy high-fat foods and toward refined grains and added sugars,” Ludwig said. “A growing body of research shows that refined carbohydrates increase metabolic dysfunction and obesity. Yet, foods rich in added sugars, starches and refined grains like white bread, white rice, chips, crackers, and bakery desserts still account for most of the calories people eat.
“Lifting the restriction on total fat would clear the way for restaurants and industry to reformulate products containing more healthful fats and fewer refined grains and added sugars.”
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