WHO Targets Saturated and Trans Fatty Acids
The World Health Organization (WHO) released draft guidelines on saturated fatty acid and trans-fatty acid intake for adults and children. The draft guidelines suggest that adults and children reduce their intake of saturated fatty acids to less than 10% of total energy intake and their intake of trans-fatty acids to less than 1% of total energy intake. Furthermore, the draft guidelines recommend using polyunsaturated fatty acids as a source of replacement energy, if needed. The objective of the recommendations is to reduce the risk of noncommunicable diseases (NCD’s) in adults and children.
The WHO first issued population nutrient intake goals for the prevention of NCD’s in 1989. (We reported on WHO’s recommendation to reduce free sugars intake to less than 5% of total daily energy intake in 2015.) WHO Member States and all relevant stakeholders may comment on the draft guidelines between May 4 and June 1, 2018. (A call for public comments on the draft guidelines, along with directions for accessing the draft guidelines, can be found on WHO’s website.)
While the WHO is a respected public health body, decisions about appropriate regulatory responses to the organization’s recommendations are made by individual governments. In the U.S., the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued its final rules to implement changes to nutrition labeling requirements on May 20, 2016. Both sugars and fats are addressed in the new nutrition labeling requirements that are currently scheduled to take effect on January 1, 2020 for manufacturers with $10 million or more in annual foods sales and on January 1, 2021 for manufacturers with less than $10 million in annual food sales. More specifically, the final rule on Food Labeling: Revision of the Nutrition and Supplement Facts Label requires added sugars to be included on the Nutrition Facts label, which is a new requirement. The amount of saturated fat and trans fats per serving is listed on the current label and will be required on the new labels, however, listing of “calories from fat” will not be required on the new labels. The full global impact and response to the WHO’s recommendations on saturated fatty acids and trans-fatty acids remains to be seen, however.