Leiden, The Netherlands
Nov 5-6, 2015

 A meeting of 20 leading experts on dietary fat and health convened in Leiden, NL, Nov. 5-6 to assess the scientific state of the art on the effect of saturated fatty acid (SAFA) consumption on the risk of coronary heart disease (CHD) and stroke. The goal was to confirm the key points of agreement where convincing evidence exists, identify areas where the evidence is inconclusive, and describe the knowledge gaps and the best ways to fill them.

The meeting was divided into four sessions addressing the background of SAFA, risk factors for CHD and ischemic stroke, the effect of SAFA and SAFA-rich foods on heart health, and current dietary recommendations and future perspectives. Discussion of the background on SAFA included worldwide intakes, food sources, matrix effects, function in the body and the need for SAFA in food technology.

The intake of SAFA-rich foods and the measurement of biomarkers related to dietary intake were discussed in terms of their usefulness in predicting the risk of CHD. Discussants noted the different effects of consuming various SAFA-rich foods, such as butter, cheese and meats. Participants also debated the evidence for the measurement of risk markers and the relative importance of low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C), LDL particles, high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, and triglycerides in predicting CHD risk. Blood pressure and inflammatory and thrombotic parameters were also included, as were studies on Mendelian randomization and their potential to account for some of the heterogeneity among findings.

In a guided discussion, participants examined the observational and interventional evidence on the impact of SAFA on CHD and stroke, emphasizing the different methodologies used and their strengths and weaknesses. Participants gave special attention to meta-analyses.

For each of these broad topics, the group identified knowledge gaps, uncertainties and points of agreement. The final discussion focused on the usefulness of dietary guidelines for public health that are based on food consumption rather than nutrient intakes.

The fully referenced proceedings of the meeting have been published in the Annals of Nutrition and Metabolsim.

Conference organizers: Gerard Hornstra, Maastricht University, Maastricht, NL; Ingeborg A. Brouwer, Vrij Universiteit, Amsterdam, NL; Marianne Geleijnse, Wageningen University, Wageningen, NL; Koen Dewettinck, Ghent University, Belgium.

Conference sponsors: International Expert Movement to Improve Dietary Fat Quality, a working party of the International Union of Nutritional Sciences; MVO – The Netherlands Oils and Fats Industry; and the European Palm Oil Alliance.

SAFA Expert Meeting - picture