Friday, December 11, 2009

Percentage of Fat in Diet Doesn't Affect Weight Gain Over Time

(Reuters Health Summary)

In maintaining a healthy lifestyle, most people are concerned with the amount of fat in their diet. We're all advised to maintain a relatively low-fat diet, including more "healthy" fats, but keeping our fat intake between 20 and 35% of our daily calories. But according to new research, weight gain may not have as much to do with fat intake as we had previously thought.

The researchers in this new study have found that the percentage of calories from fats that are consumed each day, as opposed to protein and carbohydrates, have nothing to do with long term weight gain. Neither do the types of fats, including the healthy ones.

The researchers followed nearly 90,000 men and women from six different countries participating in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition Study for up to ten years. Average fat intake ranged from 31.5 percent to 36.5 percent of total calories. On average, people gained about a quarter of a pound every year. The analyses performed found no relationship between how much weight was gained and how much fat was consumed by participants, or their intake of polyunsaturated fats versus saturated fats.

According to Dr. Nita Forouhi of the Institute of Metabolic Science, Addenbrooke's Hospital, Cambridge, UK, it would be "absurd" to think it's OK to go nuts and eat as much fat as you want, "given so much evidence that already exists on the potential harms of diets high in saturated or trans-fats for heart health for instance," She went on to say "The healthiest way to avoid weight gain is to make sure that, when appropriate, total calorie intake is limited by reducing one's intake of added sugars, fats, and alcohol, which all provide calories but few or no essential nutrients, to watch portion sizes of food (so food portions consumed do not increase in size over time), and at the same time take regular physical activity."

Check out the whole article called "Fat in diet won't affect weight gain over time" from Reuters Health (Dec 11, 2009).