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SFDA: Fat is a Source of Energy and Its Abundance is Linked to Chronic Diseases
Published in Saudi Press Agency on 17 - 01 - 2022

Although fat is a rich source of energy, and one of the main nutrients that the body uses for growth and performing vital functions, its frequent consumption is linked to high rates of chronic diseases, which approximately account for 73% of the total deaths in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, according to the statistics of the World Health Organization for 2018. Saudi Food and Drug Authority (SFDA) issued a guide on fats explaining what they, their benefits to the human body, their sources and types, the difference between saturated, unsaturated and trans fats, and the recommended amount for each.
SFDA indicated that saturated fats are mainly found in animal source foods such as dairy and its products, red meat, chicken skin and butter. Animal source foods are also found in some vegetable sources such as palm oil and coconut oil, and the frequent consumption of this type of fat is linked to a high level of cholesterol in the body and an increase in risk of cardiovascular disease.
SFDA recommended, through the guide, to choose low-fat cuts of meat, such as white meat, fat-free red meat, and low-fat dairy products. It also recommended that the individual's consumption of saturated fat should not exceed 10% of the total daily calories (average 2000 calories a day), a man's consumption of it should not exceed 30 grams, and a woman's consumption of it should not exceed than 20 grams of saturated fat per day.
SFDA indicated that unsaturated fats are one of the sources of beneficial fats that help lower the level of cholesterol in the blood, as it works to reduce the level of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) and raise the rate of high-density lipoprotein (HDL), and thus reduce the rate of heart disease. The consumption of this type of fat should be balanced and not excessive, given the association of high obesity in general with a high consumption of fat.
Unsaturated fats are mainly found in vegetable and fish sources such as olive oil, pumpkin seeds, nuts, canola, salmon, and sardines.
SFDA noted that partially hydrogenated oils are formed through the process of partial hydrogenation of vegetable oils, as this process includes adding hydrogen atoms to vegetable oil, thus turning it from liquid to solid and resulting in partially hydrogenated oil (PHO), which is the main source there are hydrogenated oils in food products, and studies have proven that this type of fat is linked to many health problems. Therefore, many countries, including the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, represented by SFDA, have taken nutritional policies to prevent the use of these oils in food industries.
SFDA began in reducing trans fats since 2015, after the issuance of the Saudi technical regulation "SFDA. FD 2483", which stipulates certain limits for trans fats in oils, fats and other food products. After that, SFDA conducted a survey on food products in the local markets and an analysis of their content of trans fats, and through the control campaigns, it was found that the percentage of food products complying to the Saudi technical regulation amounted to approximately 95%. In 2020, SFDA prohibited the use of PHO, which is the main source of trans fats in the food industries It is one of the most important nutritional strategies through which SFDA seeks to promote public health and protect society. As a result, SFDA was praised by the World Health Organization (WHO) for being the first country at the regional level and the 14th at the global level to implement such a decision.


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