Scientific developments are increasingly calling into question conventional thinking on the health impacts of saturated fat, according to scientists speaking in Brussels last week.
Scientists from around Europe have met in Brussels to discuss the issue at a European Dairy Association conference chaired by Dr Judith Bryans, Director of The Dairy Council.
Over 150 delegates listened as speakers Professor Arne Astrup (University of Copenhagen) and Professor Ian Givens (University of Reading) talked about the changing face of science, outdated beliefs and the need for policy to move from a focus on single nutrients to whole foods.
Professor Astrup recommended that we must stop looking at just single nutrients, as this is not how food is consumed. Focusing on single nutrients does not give an accurate view of how food will affect health.
As science moves on, public health policy needs to keep pace. As opinions change in the scientific community on saturated fat, policy makers need to be willing to change, too.
Professor Givens stressed the nutrient richness of dairy foods and highlighted the analysis of scientific studies undertaken by his group at Reading which show that milk doesn't increase the risk of heart disease or stroke despite containing saturated fat.
MEP Esther De Lange talked about using science to improve public health. She emphasized the need for simple, consistent scientific messages coming from scientists to help politicians and the public understand the science around health and nutrition. She highlighted how difficult interpreting nutritional science can be for non-nutritionists such as politicians.
Dr Judith Bryans, Director of the Dairy Council and Chair of the European Dairy Association's Nutrition Working Group, said: “While we know that science moves quicker than policy, it is up to us to ensure that we are bringing the latest evidence to those who are responsible for decision making on public health."
"It's clear from this conference that we have a lot of work to do as an industry to achieve this, but we are moving in the right direction.”