Forum focuses on good fats

Thursday, 26 September 2002

Adelaide will host a unique gathering of nutritional scientists, food manufacturers, health authorities and policy makers from across Australia to discuss healthy fats in the diet, at the Stamford Plaza Hotel this coming Monday (September 30).

Convened by Professor Peter Howe of the University of Adelaide and the University of South Australia, the Omega Workshop will consider the health implications of unsaturated fats. These include monounsaturated fats, know as omega-9, and two classes of polyunsaturated fats known as omega-6 and omega-3.

While polyunsaturated fats are now regarded as essential components of a healthy diet, the actual amounts required are still being debated.

"Until now we've concentrated on lowering fat intake to reduce the risk of heart disease," says Professor Howe, "but people have tended to cut down on the good fats rather than the bad. The latest research shows that unsaturated fats, especially the marine omega-3s in fish and fish oil, can benefit our health in many ways."

The forum will discuss benefits of omega-3 fats extending from their role in infant development through to counteracting diseases of an aging population, such as heart disease and arthritis, and will seek consensus on recommendations. These recommendations may assist the National Health and Medical Research Council in its current review of nutrient intake requirements.

"Australia still has no official intake recommendations for omega-3 fats, even though there is rapidly growing public awareness of their importance in health," Professor Howe says.

"Health promotion organisations such as the Heart Foundation talk about eating serves of fatty fish, yet not all Australians are fish eaters. With the introduction of manufactured foods containing marine omega-3 fats, we need more definitive measures of requirements."

Delegates will debate findings of a new report just released in the United States by the Food and Nutrition Board of the National Academy of Science. While nutrition experts are encouraging greater consumption of omega-3 fats from both plant and marine sources for optimal health, the report on recommended dietary intakes for unsaturated fats has sparked controversy by concluding that the current average intakes of omega-3 fats in the US are adequate.

The Adelaide forum will discuss new sources of marine omega-3 and strategies to incorporate them into a wider range of food products. It will also review current regulations covering nutritional and health claims on such foods.

"The broad range of expertise available through the Omega Workshop and the willingness to collaborate should enable us to capitalise more effectively on the beneficial aspects of dietary fat," says Professor Howe.

"It's encouraging to see food manufacturers prepared to work together to make this happen!"

The forum is sponsored by BASF Australia, Clover Corporation, Goodman Fielder, Martek Biosciences Roche Vitamins Australia and Unilever Australasia.


Contact Details

Professor Peter Howe
Business: +61 8 8313 4157
Mobile: 0402 159 039

Ms Kay Pender
Personal Assistant to Professor Howe
Business: +61 8 8313 5328
Mobile: 0412 802 213