Resource Centre Prof Marius Smuts from the North West University

Marius Smuts, with a background in Biochemistry since 1981, became a Registered Nutritionist in 2012. He completed his studies at the University of Stellenbosch and was an Assistant Medical Researcher during this time. In terms of nutrition and diet, Marius is particularly interested in the role of essential fatty acids and their metabolites on growth and development, the efficacy of multi-micronutrient supplementation in infants from high-risk groups, and the interaction between omega-3 and micronutrients during cognitive development. He is part of both The Nutrition Society of South Africa (NCSSA: currently the president) and the International Society for the Study of Fatty Acids and Lipids (ISSFAL). He has had over 70 peer-reviewed scientific publications as first or co-author in his fields of interest. Along with this, he has also presented over 50 presentations at National congresses, and over 50 International congresses as first or co-author.

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Prof Marius Smuts from the North West University Centre of Excellence in Nutrition, North-West University, Potchefstroom; Medical Research Council, Parow, South Africa.

Background and Objectives: Dietary fats are not only a good source of energy, but also an important source of essential fatty acids. This paper aims to review information from literature on the total fat and fatty acid intake of South Africans and formulating quantitative and food based dietary guidelines for the country based on this information.

Methods: Dietary fat intake data, reported in the literature for several South African studies, were summarised. These studies included the 1999 National Food Consumption Survey (NFCS, n=1234), The Transition and Health during Urbanisation (THUSA, n=1751) study, and the Prospective Urban and Rural Epidemiology (PURE) study, (2005: n=1950; 2010: n=1253). Data from other, smaller cross-sectional studies on South Africans were also included.

Results: The NFCS showed that the mean fat intake of children (1-9 years) was 23% of energy (%E) and ranged between 20-22%E in most provinces. The THUSA study showed that the percentage of energy from fat differed between the rural and the urban areas, but remain 30%E. In the 2005 and 2010 PURE studies, the total energy from fat was low in rural areas: 17.6%E and 22.6%E for men, and 20.3%E and 24.1%E for women, respectively; in the urban areas it was 25.3%E and 26.2%E for men, and 28.3%E and 27%E of energy for women, respectively.

Saturated fatty acid (SFA) intakes varied between 3.9%E- 9.1%E, monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs) between 4.2%E–10.4%E and polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) between 5.5%E- 8.3%E. SFA and PUFA intakes were 10%E. Some studies reported a mean PUFA intake of 6%E (the lower end of the recommendation).

Conclusions: Differences in the total amount and type of fat consumed within the population should be taken into account when formulating quantitative and food based dietary guidelines for a country.

Key words: Fat; diet; fatty acids; South Africa