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Health: Dietary Guidelines

Volume 711: debated on Monday 1 June 2009

Questions

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what is their assessment of the 2008 paper A Call for Higher Standards of Evidence for Dietary Guidelines published by Paul R Marantz et al in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine. [HL3758]

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) agrees with the author's argument that dietary recommendations should be based on sound scientific evidence. The FSA and United Kingdom Health Departments are advised on nutrition issues by the Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition (SACN). The committee bases its recommendations on the totality of the scientific literature using an agreed framework (SACN, 2002) that uses a hierarchy approach that ranks studies on quality. Where there is insufficient evidence to make a recommendation, then SACN will state that this is the case. SACN's findings are published in reports which are made available to the public.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what research has been conducted by the Food Standards Agency to show that their dietary guidelines on salt, hydrogenated (trans-) fat and saturated fat consumption designed to address coronary heart disease do not create other risks to health. [HL3759]

The Food Standards Agency's (FSA) advice to consumers on salt, hydrogenated (trans-) fat and saturated fat is based on advice from the Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition (SACN) on trans fatty acids (2007) and salt (2003), and its predecessor committee, the Committee on Medical Aspects of Food and Nutrition Policy (COMA) on trans fatty acids (1994) and saturated fat (1994).

The SACN's recommendations are based on a consideration of studies against a published framework for the evaluation of evidence (SACN, 2002), and both the benefits and risks of a nutrient on health are considered under this framework.

The FSA has not funded specific research on risks associated with SACN and COMA advice but monitors scientific research as it is published.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government in the light of their dietary recommendations for reductions in consumption of saturated fats and hydrogenated (trans-) fats, what advice they offer to consumers regarding the replacement of butter and margarine. [HL3760]

The Food Standards Agency's (FSA) saturated fat campaign encourages consumers to reduce their intake of saturated fat, as a means to improve their cardiovascular health. The FSA advises that people replace saturated fats with unsaturated fats—an example of this is to replace butter with margarine in the diet.

Most margarine products contain low levels of trans fats (less than 1 per cent), which like saturated fat is associated with increased cardiovascular disease risk, the current United Kingdom population trans fat intakes are about half the maximum recommended level of 2 per cent of food energy, as recommended by the Committee on Medical Aspects of Food and Nutrition Policy (COMA, 1994) and endorsed by the Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition (SACN, 2007). Government will continue to monitor saturated fat and trans fat intakes in the population.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what was the average calorie intake in the United Kingdom in 1980; what it was at the most recent date for which figures are available; what proportion of calories was in absolute carbohydrate intake and what proportion was in absolute fat intake for those years; and what was the percentage increase in overweight and obesity over that period. [HL3761]

Comparable information on average energy (calorie) intake for adults in Britain and the contribution of fat and carbohydrate to energy intake is available for 1986-87 and 2000-01. This is shown in the following table. These figures are taken from the Dietary and Nutritional Survey of British Adults aged 16 to 64 years, carried out in 1986-87 and the National Diet and Nutrition Survey of adults aged 19 to 64 years, carried out in 2000-01.

Data from the Health Survey for England (HSE) 2007 estimates that 24 per cent of men and women are obese and 61 per cent are overweight (including obese). In 1993, 13 per cent of men and 16 per cent of women in England were obese, while 53 per cent of adults were overweight and obese1.

1986-87*2000-01**

16-64 years

19-64 years

Men

Women

Men

Women

Energy intake (kcals/day)

2,450

1,680

2,313

1,632

% food energy from total fat

40.4

40.3

35.8

34.9

% food energy from total carbohydrate

44.7

44.2

47.7

48.5

% overweight (BMI >25 & <30)

37

24

41

33

% obese (BMI >30)

8

12

25

20

1 The Information Centre (2008) Statistics on obesity, physical activity and diet: England, January 2008: The Information Centre, Lifestyles Statistics.

* Data from Gregory J, Foster K, Tyler H, & Wiseman M. Dietary and Nutritional Survey of British adults. HMSO (London, 1990)

** Data from Henderson L, Gregory 3, Irving K & Swan G. National Diet and Nutrition Survey: adults aged 19 to 64 years. Volume 2: Energy, protein, carbohydrate, fat and alcohol intake. TSO (London: 2003).