一Japan Oilseed Processors Association is a nonprofit industry organization comprised of companies involved in the production and processing of vegetable oils.

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Vegetable Oil and Nutrition

2. Fatty acids contained in vegetable oil

(5) Visible fat and invisible fat

Until now, we have introduced the constituents and functions of vegetable oil. As shown in Figure 1, in addition to fats consumed as food products, fats are also contained in ingredients eaten on a daily basis. In actuality, in the daily life of Japanese people, most people eat fats obtained from ingredients that are eaten without much thought. Fats contained in ingredients are called "invisible fats." Conversely, fats that are obtained directly from oils and fats can be confirmed and are therefore called "visible fats." The status of consumption for both types of fats is shown in Figure 2. According to the National Health and Nutrition Survey (FY2011) conducted by the MHLW, the amount of fat consumed per person per day is 54 g, 42.7 g of which are invisible fats.

Figure 2: Consumption amount of visible fat and invisible fat (average)

(Unit: grams per person per day)

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Source: National Health and Nutrition Survey (MHLW), multiple years
Note: The values in Figure 2 were calculated by the JOPA based on the fat consumption amounts listed in the National Health and Nutrition Survey

The total amount of fat consumption peaked in 1995 and has decreased ever since. The past few years, consumption amount has remained at nearly the same level. When examining a breakdown of consumption, "visible oil" has gradually decreased while animal fats in the "invisible oil" category have increased slightly. Based on the misconception that "eating fats will make me fat," people are suppressing their consumption of easily-managed visible oil (salad oil, margarine, butter, mayonnaise, etc.). Conversely, the consumption of animal fat is increasing due to a rise in consumption of meat. Food made from fatty ingredients and cooked using fats/oils tastes good and is therefore prone to over-eating. Also, a surprisingly high amount of fat is contained in processed foods and side dishes. It is difficult to manage fat consumption while considering all of these factors. This has resulted in the trends shown in Figure 2. However, simply reducing consumption of visible fat poses the risk of harming the appropriate ratio for plant fats to animal fats (a ratio of 1:1 is desirable). Instead, when seeking to reduce fat consumption, it may be more appropriate to refrain from consuming animal products or processed products that contain a large amount of fat.

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