EFSA launches public consultation on Dietary Reference Values for carbohydrates, dietary fibre, and fat

EFSA’s Panel on Dietetic Products, Nutrition and Allergies has provided advice on Dietary Reference Values (DRVs) for the European population for carbohydrates (including sugars), dietary fibre, and fats. EFSA’s scientific advice on nutrient intakes is in response to a request from the European Commission and will support EU policy makers in their decision-making process in the field of nutrition.

EFSA has been asked to review the existing population reference intakes in the light of new scientific evidence and taking into account more recent national recommendations. For this reason, EFSA will hold a dedicated meeting with nutrition experts from Member States on 7 and 8 September 2009, in addition to launching a public consultation on its draft opinions on DRVs for carbohydrates, dietary fibre, and fat. The scientific community and other stakeholders are invited to send their comments to EFSA by 15 October 2009.  

Regarding the recommended daily intakes of carbohydrates, sugars, dietary fibre, and fats, the Panel concluded that:

  • The intake of carbohydrates should be between 45 to 60% of total energy intake.
  • No recommendations for sugars (either total or added) can be given due to the insufficient data available.
  • 25 grams per day of dietary fibre are adequate for normal bowel function in adults.
  • The evidence regarding the role of glycemic index and glycemic load[1] in weight maintenance and prevention of diet-related diseases is still inconclusive
  • Intakes of fats should range between 20 to 35% of the total energy intake, with different values recommended for infants. Intakes of both saturated and trans fatty acids should be as low as possible within the context of a nutritionally adequate diet. The Panel also provided advice regarding the setting of DRVs for mono- and polyunsaturated fatty acids as well as cholesterol.
Notes to editors

Why carry out this work?
Scientific advice on nutrient intakes is an important basis for Community action in the field of nutrition; for example in the past such advice has been used to define reference values for nutrition labelling.

There was a need to review and update the latest report on nutrient and energy intakes for the European Community which was prepared by the Scientific Committee on Food (SCF) in 1993. Scientists of EFSA’s NDA Panel took therefore into account the evidence available in this field, which has significantly increased in the past decades.

With these opinions on fats and carbohydrates, EFSA delivers the first part of its work related to macronutrients. The second part on micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) is due in 2010. EFSA also consulted on the General principles for setting DRVs, on DRVs for water, and on the Guidance for food-based dietary guidelines in 2008.

What are DRVs?
A balanced diet is one that provides adequate amounts of energy and nutrients for health and well-being. Dietary Reference Values (DRVs) are the complete set of nutrient recommendations and reference values, such as population reference intakes, the average requirement, adequate intake level and the lower threshold intake.

They are used for the assessment and planning of diets both at the population and individual level, as well as a basis for reference values in food labelling.

DRVs are also used for establishing food-based dietary guidelines (FBDG), which translate nutritional recommendations into messages about foods and diet. FBDG can guide consumers on what to eat and help them make healthy dietary choices.

[1] “The concepts of glycemic index and glycemic load are utilised to predict and rank foods according to their effects on blood glucose levels.”

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