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EUFIC’s review Facts on Fats provides the reader with an extensive, though easy to understand, overview of the various aspects related to the fats we consume through our diets. The current article, explains the Basics of dietary fats. It clarifies what dietary fats are, how fats differ from a molecular perspective, which roles they play in the human body (briefly), and the importance of fats in food technology. The second part, to be published later this year, will be a review of the scientific literature on Dietary Fats and Health.
Eat moderate portions - reduce, don't eliminate foods
If you keep portion sizes reasonable, it's easier to eat all the foods you enjoy without having to eliminate any. For example, some reasonable serving sizes are: 100g of meat; one medium piece of fruit, half a cup of raw pasta and 50ml of ice-cream. Ready-prepared meals can offer a handy means of portion control and they often have the calorie values on the pack to help those who are counting. If you are eating out, you could share a portion with a friend.
|Children / kids / adolescents
For a small percentage of people, specific foods or components of food may cause adverse reactions. These are typically classified as food allergies (i.e. reactions which involve the immune system) or food intolerances (i.e. reactions which do not involve the immune system). Allergen terminology has been published by the World Allergy Organization and is based on terminology originally proposed by the European Academy of Allergy and Clinical Immunology (EAACI).
A food allergy occurs when an allergen (i.e. a protein in the offending food, which in the majority of people will not produce an adverse reaction) sets off a chain of reproducible reactions involving the immune system. The reactions can be either antibody- or cell-mediated.
In May 2013, the 20th European Congress on Obesity, hosted by the European Association for the Study of Obesity (EASO), took place in Liverpool. With the prevalence of obesity still on the rise, the objectives of this annual forum are to: communicate the state of the art research in the field of obesity, to foster innovative approaches for the prevention and treatment of obesity and its associated burden of diseases, and to bring together experts in the field of obesity research and management. The programme drew over 1,700 participants and covered a range of obesity-related topics. EUFIC interviewed 10 of the speakers at the conference, who summarised their research findings.
Sugars, a type of carbohydrate, have been making media headlines repeatedly over the last years. Most strikingly, the debate tends to be based on gut feelings rather than solid science, often missing out on key studies and reviews. However, for policy makers to make informed decisions about sugar consumption in relation to health, they require a well-balanced reflection of the current scientific evidence. In this context, the European Food Safety Authority in its 2010 scientific opinion on dietary carbohydrates concluded that current data do not allow setting an upper limit for (added) sugar intake in relation to body weight, dental health and certain adverse metabolic effects.
Sugar is a common and important part of our diet and provides an essential fuel for our bodies. In fact, the brain and the red blood cells need glucose as an energy source since they cannot use fat, protein, or other forms of energy for this purpose. Sugar also makes our diet more palatable by adding sweetness to a large range of foods. As with any nutrient, excess consumption can have a negative health impact. Therefore, sugar should be eaten in moderation. Furthermore, an overall healthy lifestyle encompasses regular physical activity alongside a balanced diet.
To better understand sugars and their impact on health, EUFIC provides a range of information materials that cover many of the sugar-related topics and give an overview of the most recent scientific developments in the field.
Two symposia organised by EUFIC at the 20th International Congress of Nutrition (ICN) in September 2013, in Granada, Spain.
Sugars and Health – The Controversies Continue
Obesity is a major threat to health and quality of life. It results from an energy imbalance between food intake and physical activity. To tackle obesity, dietary guidelines promote a reduction in intake of fats and sugars, consuming them in moderation in the diet. Whilst an increase in physical activity is widely accepted to be beneficial, we are now witnessing a debate among scientists on whether there is a specific role of sugars in the development of obesity. This symposium deliberates the effect of sugars on health, and presents a look at the role of sugars in the body from three different angles - from a hedonic, metabolic and endurance training perspective. Watch the webinar here.
Read more about sugars.
Food and Nutrition Reporting in the Media
The media are an important source that can influence the public’s perception, attitudes and behaviours, including what people buy, eat, and believe about food. In the context of public health, journalists have an important role to play framing a story to put it into context. They receive information about food from different sources and stakeholders, including universities’ press releases, scientific publications, conferences, or individual relationships. This symposium gives insight into food safety and nutrition communication in the media through the talks of three experienced communicators in the field of food and nutrition. Watch the webinar here.
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