This is not the first meta-analysis that has found no link between saturated fat and heart disease. – AFP
The long-held belief that saturated fat is linked with cardiovascular disease is coming under close scrutiny.
It has just been a few months since the headline in the Daily Telegraph announced: “No link found between saturated fat and heart disease”.
This was in response to a study published in the March issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine where researchers said they found no significant link between saturated fat and heart disease.
Since then, there has been much analysis and soul-searching, with some writing that (the study) puts the final nail in the “saturated fat causes heart disease” coffin, whilst others caution against taking the study too literally, arguing that more evidence needs to be unearthed before any definitive conclusion (if any) could be reached.
According to the United Kingdom National Health Service, the study in question was carried out by researchers from the University of Cambridge and Medical Research Council, University of Oxford, Imperial College London, University of Bristol, Erasmus University Medical Centre, the Netherlands, and Harvard School of Public Health, United States.
In essence, it was a meta-analysis of 72 separate studies (45 cohort studies and 27 randomised controlled trials) that included over 600,000 participants in 18 different countries, looking at various components of total saturated fatty acid, both as a component in participants’ diets, as well as levels in the bloodstream.
A cohort study is a form of observational study, while a randomised controlled trial is a study in which people are allocated at random (by chance alone) to receive one of several clinical interventions. It is one of the simplest and most powerful tools in clinical research.
The main buzz generated by the findings were that “total saturated fatty acid was not linked to coronary disease risk”, and there was “insufficient evidence to support guidelines that advise eating more foods containing polyunsaturated fats to reduce heart risk”.