People who want to maintain a healthy body weight shouldn't obsess about how much fat they eat, according to new research published in the December 2009 issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
The percentage of calories that a person get from fat - as opposed to protein or carbohydrates - had nothing to do with how much weight they gain in future years. The type of fat they ate didn't matter either, the research team found.
To investigate the controversial role of fat in weight gain, researchers tracked the dietary intake and body weight of nearly 90,000 men and women from six different countries participating in European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition Study. Participants were followed for up to one decade.
Among these adults, average fat intake ranged from just over 30 percent to nearly 37 percent of total daily caloric intake. Weight gain during the study period averaged about a quarter of a pound every year.
After all factors were accounted for, there was no relationship between how much weight people gained and how much fat they ate. Intake of "good" polyunsaturated fats versus "bad" saturated fats also didn't matter.
The researchers say it's more important to aim for a healthy lifestyle including a balanced healthy diet and regular physical activity, than to focus on fat intake alone as a factor for weight gain.
Besides, fat increases satiety so that you feel full and stop eating. Foods marketed to be low-fat often contain added sugars as fillers to enhance taste.
The healthiest way to avoid weight gain is to cut down on intake of added sugars, fats, and alcohol, which all provide lots of calories but few nutrients. Controlling portion sizes and getting regular physical activity are also important for weight management.
All research on this web site is the property of Leslie Beck Nutrition Consulting Inc. and is protected by copyright. Keep in mind that research on these matters continues daily and is subject to change. The information presented is not intended as a substitute for medical treatment. It is intended to provide ongoing support of your healthy lifestyle practices.