A team of researchers at McMaster University has developed a reliable and accurate blood test to track individual fat intake, a tool that could guide public health policy on healthy eating.
Establishing reliable guidelines has been a significant challenge for nutritional epidemiologists until now, because they have to rely on study participants faithfully recording their own consumption, creating results that are prone to human error and selective reporting, particularly when in the case of high-fat diets.
For the study, published in the Journal of Lipid Research, chemists developed a test, which detects specific non-esterified fatty acids (NEFAs), a type of circulating free fatty acid that can be measured using a small volume of blood sample.
“Epidemiologists need better ways to reliably assess dietary intake when developing nutritional recommendations,” says Philip Britz-McKibbin, professor in the Department of Chemistry & Chemical Biology at McMaster and lead author of the study
“The food we consume is highly complex and difficult to measure when relying on self-reporting or memory recall, particularly in the case of dietary fats. There are thousands of chemicals that we are exposed to in foods, both processed and natural,” he says.
The study was a combination of two research projects Britz-McKibbin conducted with Sonia Anand in the Department of Medicine and Stuart Phillips in the Department of Kinesiology.