Food sources of saturated fat and the association with mortality: a meta-analysis

Document Type

Journal Article


American Public Health Association


Faculty of Health, Engineering and Science


School of Exercise and Health Sciences




This article was originally published as: O'Sullivan, T., Hafekost, K., Mitrou , F., & Lawrence , D. (2013). Food sources of saturated fat and the association with mortality: a meta-analysis. American Journal of Public Health, 103(9), e31-e42. Original article available here


We summarized the data related to foods high in saturated fat and risk of mortality. We searched Cochrane Library, MEDLINE, EMBASE, and ProQuest for studies from January 1952 to May 2012. We identified 26 publications with individual dietary data and all-cause, total cancer, or cardiovascular mortality as endpoints. Pooled relative risk estimates demonstrated that high intakes of milk, cheese, yogurt, and butter were not associated with a significantly increased risk of mortality compared with low intakes. High intakes of meat and processed meat were significantly associated with an increased risk of mortality but were associated with a decreased risk in a subanalysis of Asian studies. The overall quality of studies was variable. Associations varied by food group and population. This may be because of factors outside saturated fat content of individual foods. There is anongoing need for improvement in assessment tools and methods that investigate food sources of saturated fat and mortality to inform dietary guidelines.