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Editorial policy

The Food and Nutrition Bulletin is intended to make available policy analyses, state-of-the-art summaries, and original scientific articles relating to multidisciplinary efforts to alleviate the problems of hunger and malnutrition in the developing world. It is not intended for the publication of scientific articles of principal interest only to individuals in a single discipline or within a single country or region. Notices of relevant books and other publications will be published if they are received for review. The Bulletin is also a vehicle for notices of forthcoming international meetings that satisfy the above criteria and for summaries of such meetings.

The Food and Nutrition Bulletin also serves as the principal outlet for the publication of reports of working groups and other activities of the UN ACC Sub-committee on Nutrition (SCN) and its Advisory Group on Nutrition.

The SCN itself is a focal point for coordinating activities of FAO, WHO, UNICEF, the UNU, Unesco, the World Bank, the World Food Programme, the World Food Council, the United Nations Environment Programme, and other bodies of the United Nations system which have an interest in food and nutrition.

Submissions. Unsolicited manuscripts of articles of the type published in this and previous issues may be sent to the editor at the Boston office address given above. They must be typed, double-spaced, with complete references and must include original copy for any figures used (see the "Note for contributors" in the back of this issue).

Any disciplinary or conceptual approach relevant to problems of world hunger and malnutrition is welcome, and controversy over some of the articles is anticipated. Letters to the editor are encouraged and will be printed if judged to have an adequate basis and to be of sufficient general interest.

Peer review. The Bulletin is a peer-reviewed journal. Every article submitted first receives editorial review. If it is consistent with the editorial policy and is not obviously deficient in some way, it is sent to two or sometimes three experienced and knowledgeable reviewers. Occasionally a paper may be returned to the authors by the editor with suggestions for improvement before it is submitted to the reviewers.

If two reviewers agree that the paper should be published in the Bulletin, it is accepted and either sent immediately for copy editing or returned to the authors for consideration of suggestions from the reviewers and the editor. If both reviewers agree that the paper should not be accepted, the editor writes a personal letter to the authors explaining the reason and enclosing the comments of the reviewers anonymously. If the reviewers do not agree with each other, either the paper is sent to a third reviewer or a decision is taken by the editor. In these cases, the authors are usually given a chance to respond to the reviewers' comments.

Disclaimer. It is expressly understood that articles published in the Bulletin do not necessarily represent the views of the United Nations University, the UN ACC Subcommittee on Nutrition, or any United Nations organization. The views expressed and the accuracy of the information on which they are based are the responsibility of the authors. Some articles in the Bulletin are reports of various international committees and working groups and do represent the consensus of the individuals involved; whether or not they also represent the opinions or policies of the sponsoring organizations is expressly stated.

The United Nations University (UNU) is an organ of the United Nations established by the General Assembly in 1972 to be an international community of scholars engaged in research, advanced training, and the dissemination of knowledge related to the pressing global problems of human survival, development, and welfare. Its activities focus mainly on peace and conflict resolution, development in a changing world, and science and technology in relation to human welfare. The University operates through a worldwide network of research and postgraduate training centres, with its planning and coordinating headquarters in Tokyo, Japan.

The United Nations University Press, the publishing division of the UNU, publishes scholarly books and periodicals in the social sciences, humanities, and pure and applied natural sciences related to the University's research.


Nutritional aspects of palm oil

Editorial introduction

Palm oil has been consumed for some five thousand years in Africa, where the tree originated, but it did not become significant as a dietary component on a worldwide basis until its production was undertaken in Malaysia in the 1960s. Since that time, production has increased exponentially, and by 1984 palm oil had attained the number-one position in the world export trade in fats and oils. Today it maintains that position and is exported to more than ninety countries. In terms of production, it is second only to soy-bean oil. There has been controversy on the nutrition and health aspects of palm oil, however, with research on the topic accelerating continuously since 1987.

Results from research in laboratories in the United States, Australia, Canada, Europe, Japan, and several developing countries have been published in such refereed journals as the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Nutrition Research, the New England Journal of Medicine, the British Journal of Nutrition, Atherosclerosis, the Journal of Lipid Research, and Cancer Research. In view of the rapid progress made on the nutrition and health characteristics of palm oil, the Malaysian Palm Oil Promotion Council has produced a series of comprehensive reviews on the subject with the assistance of the Nutritional Advisory Committees for North America and Europe and the International Nutrition Advisory Council. The first was published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition [1] and the second in Nutrition Research [2]. The following nine papers represent the third collection of articles on the nutritional value and food uses of palm oil to be published in the last three years.

The first two papers deal with the most critical and controversial aspect of palm oil use in human diets- the extent to which it is cholesterolaemic. The problem arises because palm oil has been grouped with coconut oil as a "tropical oil", although their effects on cholesterol levels are quite different, as these articles point out.

There is no controversy over the subject of the next two papers-the ability of red palm oil to prevent vitamin A deficiency because of the biological value of its carotenoids. The tocopherol activity of palm oil is also of nutritional significance, as discussed in the fifth paper; there is increasing evidence that vitamin E may be beneficial in reducing the risk of coronary heart disease and possibly of cancer.

The two papers that describe the food uses of palm oil in Japan and China are also applicable to other areas of the world. The final two papers discuss the use of palm oil on the Indian subcontinent and in North Africa and West Asia. Palm oil is also used extensively for human consumption in some countries of Latin America, although this is not dealt with in the present series of articles.

A collected reprint of these papers is available without charge from the Malaysian Palm Oil Promotion Council, 1st Floor, Bangunan Getah Asli, 148 Jalan Ampang, 50450 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; telephone (603) 248-1075, fax (603) 242-2935.

Dr. Chong Yoon Hin
Nutri-Pro Shd Bhd
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Guest Editor



1. PORIM International Palm Oil Development Conference. Am J Clin Nutr 1991;53(suppl):989S-1086S.

2. Nutr Res 1992;12(suppl.1).

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