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  1. ITV Report

Advice to avoid dairy fat 'should never have been introduced'

ITV News science correspondent Alok Jha reports:

New research has found that advice issued over 30 years ago advising people to avoid eating fatty foods should "not have been introduced."

Experts say the recommendations around dairy fat were not backed up by scientific evidence and should never have been issued.

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Tens of millions of people were warned that fat consumption should be strictly limited to cut the risk of heart disease and death.

However, placing the emphasis on saturated fats, experts warn, means public heath teams have not given enough attention to other obesity risks, such as carbohydrates.

Advice to avoid fat 'should never have been introduced' Credit: Dave Thompson/PA Wire

The research paper, which reviewed data available at the time the guidelines were issued says:

It seems incomprehensible that dietary advice was introduced for 220 million Americans and 56 million UK citizens, given the contrary results from a small number of unhealthy men.

The results of the present meta-analysis support the hypothesis that the available (randomised controlled trials) did not support the introduction of dietary fat recommendations in order to reduce (coronary heart disease) risk or related mortality.

Advice to avoid fat 'should never have been introduced' Credit: Dave Thompson/PA Wire

The paper, published in the online journal Open Heart, added: "Dietary advice not merely needs review; it should not have been introduced."

But in a linked editorial, Rahul Bahl, of the Royal Berkshire NHS Foundation Trust, sounded a note of caution.

There is certainly a strong argument that an over-reliance in public health on saturated fat as the main dietary villain for cardiovascular disease has distracted from the risks posed by other nutrients, such as carbohydrates.

Yet replacing one caricature with another does not feel like a solution.

– Rahul Bahl, of the Royal Berkshire NHS Foundation Trust