Dietary advice to the public about fat consumption has consistently emphasized the reduction of total fat,
saturated fat and cholesterol. Against a background of conflicting and changing messages about how much and what type of
fat to consume, updated messages have emerged that emphasize the fatty acid profile of the fat, e.g. Dietary Guidelines for
Americans, 2000. General scientific agreement supports the recommendation to increase omega-3 fatty acid (n-3FA)
consumption and reduce omega-6 (n-6FA) intake. Specific quantitative recommendations for n-3FA intake, however, vary
widely among countries and expert groups and have not yet been included among the National Academy’s Recommended
Dietary Allowances. Unresolved questions remain about safe limits for infants, patients with certain health risks and
interactions between n-6FA and n-3FA. Complexities about different fatty acid classes and n-3FA in particular further
complicate communications efforts to provide concise and accurate guidance for public health. Food sources of n-3FA are
limited and new ways of incorporating these fatty acids into foods need to be developed. Biotechnology and food technology
are likely to be important in enhancing n-3FA intake for all segments of the population. Communications challenges
presented by emerging and conflicting science about different classes of fatty acids and the health benefits of n-3FA are
discussed in detail.
Nettleton, J.A. Communicating Health Messages about N-3FA. In: Microbehavior and Macroresults:Proceedings of the Tenth Biennial Conference of the International Institute ofFisheries Economics and Trade, July 10-14, 2000, Corvallis, Oregon, USA.Compiled by Richard S. Johnston and Ann L. Shriver. InternationalInstitute of Fisheries Economics and Trade (IIFET), Corvallis, 2001.