Is rising fat intake a bad thing?

by Jeff Gelski
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Medical research and consumer perception on fat, including saturated fat, is evolving, according to a Credit Suisse report.

NEW YORK — Global fat consumption will account for 31% of calorie intake by 2030, up from 26% currently, but that may not be a negative health forecast, according to a report issued Sept. 17 by the Credit Suisse Research Institute.

The report titled “Fat: The New Health Paradigm” said consumer buying patterns and medical research both are moving gradually in the direction of favoring food products with more natural, unprocessed fats and food products rich in saturated fats and monounsaturated fats (organic dairy, grass-fed meats, natural oils, and nuts). The report reviewed more than 400 medical research papers and books. It features results of two proprietary surveys of doctors, nutritionists and consumers.

The report did not have negative views of saturated fat and cholesterol.

The report forecast saturated fat should account for 13% of calorie intake by 2030, up from 9% now. The American Heart Association advises people that less than 7% of their daily calories should come from saturated fat, but the Credit Suisse report disagreed with that recommendation.

“Based on medical and our own research, we can conclude that the intake of saturated fat (butter, palm and coconut oil, and lard) poses no risk to our health and particularly to the heart,” the report said.

Butter consumption is growing globally at a rate of 2% to 4% annually, according to the report, and red meat consumption should grow 23% over the next 15 years.

The report forecast global egg consumption should grow at a rate of 4% a year as cholesterol warnings lessen in importance. The report found no connection between the cholesterol we eat and the level of cholesterol in our blood. The 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee has said it will not recommend people limit cholesterol intake to no more than 300 mg per day, a recommendation found in previous Dietary Guidelines for Americans. The 2015 D.G.A.C. said available evidence shows no appreciable relationship between consumption of dietary cholesterol and serum cholesterol.

Main food sources of cholesterol: U.S. adults

For other fats, the Credit Suisse report forecast polyunsaturated omega-6 fatty acid intake will decline to 5.4% of calorie intake from 6%, and omega-3 fatty acid intake will grow to 0.55% from 0.50%.

Stefano Natella, global head of equity research, investment banking, and Giles Keating, vice-chairman of IS&R and deputy global chief investment officer, private banking and wealth management, wrote the introduction of the report.

“The conclusion of this report is simple,” they said. “Natural unprocessed fats are healthy and key to the evolution of a society that focuses on developing healthy individuals, not just on treating those that are sick. Natural foods high in monounsaturated and saturated fats are one of the preferred sources of energy for our bodies to use and store. Omega-3 has strong protective properties for our heart and brain. Welcome to the new world of fat.”

The two proprietary surveys showed some doctors and consumers still have negative views on fat and cholesterol.

A survey of 151 doctors in North America, Europe and Asia found 69% said they believe the right percentage of fat in the diet should be in the 20% to 35% range. Another 19% said fat in the diet should be in the 10% to 20% range, and 13% said it should be above 35%. More than 89% of the doctors said they believed saturated fats and trans fats are linked to cardiovascular issues, and 54% said they believe eating cholesterol-rich foods is not good for the heart.

The consumer survey involved 2,846 people in the six countries of the United States, the United Kingdom, China, India, Japan and Indonesia. The survey found 29% said they think fat is good for their health but only 15% said they are likely to increase consumption of fat. While 66% said they believe eating foods rich in cholesterol negatively affects their hearts, 78% said they felt eating cholesterol-rich foods raises blood cholesterol.
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