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US dietary guidelines: is saturated fat a nutrient of concern?
  1. Zoe Harcombe
  1. Independent Researcher, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Zoe Harcombe; zoe{at}


US public health dietary advice was announced by the Select Committee on Nutrition and Human needs in 1977 and was followed by UK public health dietary advice issued by the National Advisory Committee on Nutritional Education in 1983. Dietary recommendations in both cases focused on reducing dietary fat intake; specifically to (i) reduce overall fat consumption to 30% of total energy intake and (ii) reduce saturated fat consumption to 10% of total energy intake. The recommendations were an attempt to address the incidence of coronary heart disease. These guidelines have been reiterated in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans since the first edition in 1980. The most recent edition has positioned the total fat guideline with the use of ‘Acceptable Macronutrient Distribution Ranges’. The range given for total fat is 20%–35% and the AMDR for saturated fat is given as <10%—both as a percentage of daily calorie intake. In February 2018, the Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion announced ‘The US Departments of Agriculture and Health and Human Services currently are asking for public comments on topics and supporting scientific questions to inform our development of the 2020–2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans’. Public comments were invited on a number of nutritional topics. The question asked about saturated fats was: ‘What is the relationship between saturated fat consumption (types and amounts) during adulthood and risk of cardiovascular disease?’ This article is a response to that question.

  • dietary
  • cardiovascular
  • fat

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  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests ZH receives income from writing and from two small self-employment businesses: The Harcombe Diet Co. and Columbus Publishing.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.