CBC's "Heart healthy oil claims reconsidered" Story Misleads Canadians

TORONTO, Feb. 11, 2013 /CNW/ - International nutritional recommendations from the World Health Organization and the Institute of Medicine call for a replacement of saturated fatty acids (SAFA) with polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA).  CBC's The National February 10th story suggesting that this guidance should be reconsidered on the basis of one recently published paper is misleading.

On 5 February 2013, the British Medical Journal (BMJ) published a paper by Ramsden et al raising concerns on the impact of Omega-6 (a polyunsaturated fat) as substitutes for SAFA. This paper contains a new analysis of old data recovered from the Sydney Diet Heart Study (SDHS) conducted in 1969-73.  That study's participants, men with a history of cardiovascular disease, were tested with very high doses of Omega-6 at 15 per cent of daily energy, which is more than three times the intake level of Canadians (Canadian Community Health Survey 2.2). 

CBC's viewers would have been better served had the story focused on the substantial body of evidence supporting a recently approved health claim in Canada advising consumers to replace dietary sources of saturated fat with polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats from vegetable oil to lower cholesterol.  According to Statistics Canada, over 40 per cent of Canadians have high cholesterol.

The evidence submitted to Health Canada in support of the claim by the Vegetable Oil Industry of Canada concurs with the Institute of Medicine's 'Dietary Reference Intakes for Energy, Carbohydrate, Fiber, Fat, Fatty Acids, Cholesterol, Protein and Amino Acids' which included evidence from both observational and clinical studies. This authoritative report concludes that "monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids reduce blood cholesterol concentration and help lower the risk of heart disease when they replace saturated fatty acids in the diet".

Research submitted to Health Canada in support of the claim's application for approval included evidence showing that, as a result of the replacement of saturated fat with unsaturated fats in individual diets, LDL-cholesterol reduction ranged from approximately 0.4% to 2.8% for every gram of fat that was replaced.

This reduction is significant because the literature shows that a one per cent drop in cholesterol reduces the risk of heart disease by approximately two per cent.  Furthermore, the effects of the substitution of dietary unsaturated fatty acids for saturated fatty acids appear to be both achievable in a timely manner and sustainable. In studies reviewed, benefits to individuals appear after just two and a half weeks of dietary intervention.

VOIC (VEGETABLE OIL INDUSTRY OF CANADA ) INC. - VOIC (INDUSTRIE DE L'HUILE VÉGÉTALE DU CANADA) INC. is a national not-for-profit industry group representing 70,000 oilseed growers across Canada , seed developers, oilseed processors and suppliers of fats and oils to the food industry, and makers of oilseed-based food products such as margarine, shortenings, cooking oil, salad dressing, mayonnaise and dessert toppings.

SOURCE: Vegetable Oil Industry of Canada

For further information:

Sean McPhee, VOIC (416-214-1232)