The conference, held in London, was organised by the British Nutrition Foundation to mark the launch of a briefing paper entitled The health effects of dietary unsaturated fatty acids, which was published in the June issue of Nutrition Bulletin.
A spokesperson for the foundation told NutraIngredients.com that 105 delegates attended the conference. One third of these were students and dieticians, and the rest were members of the food industry.
Although the effects if unsaturated fatty acids on blood lipid levels and omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids have attracted a good deal of public interest, this is by no means the end of the story. Research is ongoing into their effects on cognitive function, inflammation, Crohn's disease, asthma, and infant and maternal health.
In addition to presentations updating delegates on progress in these areas, Dr Ian Givens of Reading University also spoke on improving the omega-3 fatty acid profile of animal-derived foods.
Givens believes that enrichment of meat products with omega-3 and its addition to animal feed to boost levels in animal-derived produce could play major role bridging the gap between recommended and actual intake in the modern population, thus having an impact on the incidence of several serious illnesses, including cardiovascular disease.
The foundation's Sara Stanner also spoke on the public health issues of unsaturated fatty acids.
"Unsaturated fatty acids are now a nutritional hot topic and their presence in foods has attracted both public and industrial interest," said the summary of yesterday's events.
The population needs to increase consumption of omega-3 and decrease consumption of saturated fats, it said.
"To facilitate this food technologies are looking at ways in which the fatty acid profile of a food can be modified in order to bring dietary improvement without requiring a major change in dietary habits.
"However, public health messages surrounding the optimum intakes of fatty acids must be clear and consistent to ensure that a favourable change in the fatty acid profile of the UK diet occurs."