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SAFA Expert Meeting - Leiden, The Netherlands
A workshop with experts aimed at assessing the scientific state of the art on the effect of saturated fatty acid consumption on the risk of coronary heart disease and stroke took place on November 5 and 6 2015 in Leiden, Netherlands.
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The expert meeting consisted of a one-and-a-half day workshop with invited key experts in the field of saturated fatty acids (SAFA) and health. 

The scientific programme of this meeting was set up by the scientific advisory committee composed of:
- Professor Gerard Hornstra, Professor Emeritus of Experimental Nutrition, Maastricht University
- Professor Ingeborg Brouwer, Professor Nutrition for Healthy Living at Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam
- Doctor Marianne Geleijnse, Professor in Nutrition and Cardiovascular Disease, Wageningen University
- Professor Koen Dewettinck, Head of food safety and food quality department, Ghent University

The aim of the meeting was to gather academic experts in dietary fats to provide clarity of latest state of the art on saturated fats. This includes areas of consensus, but also areas of debate. 

The proceedings of the meeting will be written by Dr Joyce Nettleton, member of the steering committee of the IEM, solely based on the discussions that will occur amongst expert during the meeting and will be fully referenced with scientific evidence. This paper will be submitted to a peer-reviewed journal.

Funding for this meeting has been provided by the IEM, MVO and EPOA. The scientific independence of the meeting is guaranteed by the scientific advisory committee. The funding parties did not influence the discussion or will be involved in writing the proceedings.

More information can be found on the website:

IEM Symposium at the European Nutrition Conference (FENS 2015) in Berlin, Germany
The IEM organised a scientific session at the FENS in Berlin on Friday October 23rd. The topic of the session was: Dietary Fatty Acids - Is it time to change the recommendations?
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The symposium was chaired by Prof Berthold Koletzko, Dr. von Hauner Children’s Hospital, University of Munich Medical Center, München, Germany,

The speakers were:

Prof Ronald Mensink. Health, Medicine and Life Sciences, Maastricht University. The Netherlands.
Topic: Should saturated fat intakes be reduced?

Prof Julie Lovegrove. Director Hugh Sinclair Unit of Human Nutrition and  Deputy Director Institute for Cardiovascular and Metabolic Research (ICMR), University of Reading, United Kingdom.
Topic: Unsaturated fats - are higher intakes beneficial?

Dr. Ursula Schwab. School of Medicine. Institute of Public Health and Clinical Nutrition. University of Eastern Finland. Kuopio Campus, Finland.
Topic: Translating dietary recommendations to food-based guidelines
ISSFAL2014 dinner debate on saturated fats - proceedings published
Is it time to update saturated fats recommendations? the IEM facilitated a dinner debate at ISSFAL 2014, the proceedings are now published in the Annals of Nutrition and Metabolism.
Read more > IEM facilitated the dinner debate held at the 11th congress of the International Society for the Study of Fatty Acids and Lipids in Stockholm, Sweden, June 28July 2, 2014. Tthis paper summarises the argumants of the two debaters, Philipe Legrand and Ronald Mensink, as well of the debate moderated by Connie Diekman. Find the full text published in the annals of Nutrition and Metabolism here.

Proceedings of IEM symposium at ICN2013 published
Which dietary fat should we eat in the prevention and treatment of the metabolic syndrome ? The report of the IEM symposium at ICN 2013 in Granada has been published in the Annals of Nutrition and Metabolism.
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A symposium on the health significance of dietary fat in the prevention and treatment of the metabolic syndrome (MetS) was held at the 20th International Congress of Nutrition in Granada, Spain, on September 19, 2013. Susan Jebb, Ulf Risérus, Berthold Koletzko and Jennifer Fleming addressed the topics of dietary fat and obesity, effects of dietary fat quality in obesity and insulin resistance, influence of early nutrition on the later risk of MetS and the relative merits of high- or low-fat diets in counteracting MetS. The proceedings are now published in the Annals of Nutrition and Metabolism, and also available here.

Participants agreed that preventing weight gain and achieving weight loss in overweight and obese patients were key strategies for reducing MetS. Both low-fat and low-carbohydrate diets are associated with weight loss, but adherence to the diet is the most important factor in achieving success. Avoidance of high saturated fats contributes to lower health risks among obese, MetS and diabetic patients. Further, healthy maternal weight at conception and in pregnancy is more important that weight gain during pregnancy for reducing the risk of obesity in the offspring.

Also look at the infographics and fact sheet developed by the speakers.

IEM commented on Chouwdhury et al study
The International Expert Movement Steering Committee published a commentary on the meta-analysis published by Chouwdhury et al. in the Annals of Internal medicine.
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Commentary Posted on April 7, 2014

Public health implications of an uncritical fanfare of a single publication.

A recent analysis of different types of studies on dietary fat and the risk of heart disease questions current dietary guidelines on fat quality in the diet. A close look at the authors’ report reveals serious flaws in their data collection and analysis.
Guidelines for healthier fat intakes must account for what replaces the items that are restricted. We now know that replacing saturated fat with sugar and refined carbohydrates does not reduce the risk of heart disease, but replacement with polyunsaturated fats does. This is the current scientific consensus and is the basis of current recommendations to replace saturated fat in the diet with unsaturated fats.

Our primary concern is the public health implications of an uncritical fanfare of a single publication. Data show that mixed messages such as this report offers increase the public’s confusion and skepticism about effective dietary guidance. Ongoing scientific discussions about dietary factors, including saturated fat, and health are the foundation of scientific and public health progress. However, debunking the evidence about dietary fat and the risk of heart disease without constructive, science-based recommendations the public can actually use is at the very least unhelpful and contributes negatively to public health.

The new analysis published last week does not bring new scientific data or insights. The practical dietary recommendations on fat in the diet therefore remain the same: reduce the intake of saturated fat (‘hard’ fat as found in fatty meat, whole milk dairy products, butter, pies) and eat products low in saturated fat and high in unsaturated fats such as lean meats, reduced fat dairy foods, liquid vegetable oils and products made with these oils.


ANNA LARTEY, PhD.,Professor of Nutrition.
President of the International Union of Nutritional Sciences

BETHOLD V. KOLETZKO, Professor of Paediatrics. MD PhD (Dr med Dr med habil)
Head Div. Metabolic Diseases & Nutritional Medicine, Univ. Munich Medical Centre, Munich, Germany.

Connie Diekman is Director of University Nutrition at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri.

Professor Em. of Experimental Nutrition, Maastricht University, Maastricht, The Netherlands

JOYCE NETTLETON, DSc; Specialist in seafood nutrition and science communication.
Dr Joyce Nettleton has an independent consulting practice, ScienceVoice Consulting, in Denver, CO.