Whether they’re actually achieving their goals or not, 75% of Americans are trying to limit some type of fat in their diet, according to the International Food Information Council (IFIC)’s 2011 Food & Health Survey. The breakdown of which fats they’re targeting may come as a shock, however.
For fats that consumers are trying to decrease in their diets, trans fats came in second to saturated fats, with responses at 49% and 56%, respectively. David Dzisiak, global commercial leader, grains and oils, Dow AgroSciences, Indianapolis, IN, speculated that saturated fats may be in the lead because trans fats have mostly been removed from the American diet. “The consumption of hydrogenated oils, a significant source of trans fats in the diet, has fallen dramatically in the course of the past five years,” he said. “In 2005, we consumed about 14 billion lb of hydrogenated oils, and today we’re now down to about 5 billion lb of hydrogenated oils.”
The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans might play a role in saturated fats being in the spotlight as well. The guidelines recommend that consumers reduce saturated fat content to less than 10% of total calories and for those with heart disease to less than 7%.
The fact that 50% of respondents in the IFIC study targeted fats for reduction that are generally agreed to be healthy — polyunsaturates, monounsaturates and omegas — indicates that consumers remain confused about fatty acid potential health benefits.