Balancing the Evidence: Obesity and dietary fat
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Obesity and Dietary Fat
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The amount of fat in your diet may effect your risk of becoming obese or your ability to maintain a healthy weight after losing weight. This is an important consideration for anyone who wants to lose weight.

Summary of the Evidence: Obesity can increase the risk for many illnesses like heart disease, cancer and diabetes. Obesity develops when a person consumes more calories than they use for metabolism and activity. Some people are at greater risk to become obese than others because of their genetic inheritance.

The amount of fat in the diet also appears to be a risk factor for the development of obesity. Many different types of research studies have shown that the risk of obesity is low in individuals who consume a low fat diet. It is likely that this observation can be explained by the fact that low fat diets tend to be less energy dense resulting in the consumption of fewer calories and decreasing the likelihood that consumption will exceed expenditure.

The amount of fat in the diet may also effect the ability of an individual to maintain a weight loss. Most of the participants in the National Weight Control Registry (obese persons who have maintained a weight loss of greater than fourteen kilograms (30 pounds) for one year or more) consume a diet with less than 25 % of the kilocalories from fat..

This evidence seems to contradict the results of some surveys that have reported that the fat content of the diet has decreased over the past decades while the prevalence of obesity has increased. These observations may be due to the replacement of high fat foods with highly processed, calorically dense, low fat food products, and decreased energy expenditure.

The bottom line is that obesity results from a positive energy balance. People who consume more kilocalories than they use will gain weight. The evidence suggests that people who eat diets high in fat are more likely to over consume than those who eat low fat diets. This has implications for both weight loss and weight maintenance.

Dietary Recommendations: To decrease your risk of obesity, consume a diet that is low in fat. Thirty percent or less of the kilocalories in the diet should come from fat. The carbohydrate sources in the diet should include, fiber rich, minimally processed fruits, vegetables and grains.

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References from the Medical Literature

Link to introduction page10/21/02