British Journal of Nutrition

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Recommended dietary reference intakes, nutritional goals and dietary guidelines for fat and fatty acids: a systematic review

Javier Arancetaa1a2 c1 and Carmen Pérez-Rodrigoa2

a1 Department of Preventive Medicine and Public Health, University of Navarra, Pamplona, Spain

a2 Community Nutrition Unit, Bilbao Department of Public Health, Ugalde 7, 48012 Bilbao, Spain

Abstract

Dietary fat and its effects on health and disease has attracted interest for research and Public Health. Since the 1980s many bodies and organizations have published recommendations regarding fat intake. In this paper different sets of recommendations are analyzed following a systematic review process to examine dietary reference intakes, nutritional goals and dietary guidelines for fat and fatty acids. A literature search was conducted in relevant literature databases along a search for suitable grey literature reports. Documents were included if they reported information on either recommended intake levels or dietary reference values or nutritional objectives or dietary guidelines regarding fat and/or fatty acids and/or cholesterol intake or if reported background information on the process followed to produce the recommendations. There is no standard approach for deriving nutrient recommendations. Recommendations vary between countries regarding the levels of intake advised, the process followed to set the recommendations. Recommendations on fat intake share similar figures regarding total fat intake, saturated fats and trans fats. Many sets do not include a recommendation about cholesterol intake. Most recent documents provide advice regarding specific n-3 fatty acids. Despite efforts to develop evidence based nutrient recommendations and dietary guidelines that may contribute to enhance health, there are still many gaps in research. It would be desirable that all bodies concerned remain transparent about the development of dietary recommendations. In order to achieve this, the type of evidence selected to base the recommendations should be specified and ranked. Regular updates of such recommendations should be planned.

Correspondence:

c1 Corresponding author: J. Aranceta, fax +34 94 4001090, email jaranceta@unav.es

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