New study finds not all fats are created equal

December 8, 2008

Eating saturated fats from butter, cream and meat, as well as trans fats found in hydrogenated oils can boost our risk of cardiovascular disease, while consuming mono-unsaturated fat can be good for our heart.

Yet what's the effect of all these fats on our weight? Are some better than others?

"Research on animals and some clinical trials show that not all fats have the same effect on weight," says Nadiah Moussavi, a Master's student from the Université de Montréal Department of Nutrition. "Few epidemiological studies exist on the subject and the results of those are contradictory."

The goal of the work is to see whether a connection could be made between the prevalence of obesity and the various forms of fat found in the 168 countries around the world.

Using statistics from the United Nations' World Health Organization, Moussavi studied the prevalence of obesity in women aged 15 and older. For each year between 1998 and 2002, the total amount of calories from fat was calculated for each person. What she found was that in the countries where mono-unsaturated fats, found in olive oil, formed an integral part of the diet, no or few people were found to be overweight.

Countries where the obesity rate was high and the consumption of mono-unsaturated fat low included Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Peru. Countries such as France, Denmark and Italy showed an ideal portrait – low rates of obesity with a high consumption of mono-unsaturated fats.

The situation in Canada and the United States appears more complex. In Canada, 22.2 percent of women aged 15 and over were obese. They consumed 147 grams of fat a day, of which 59.2 grams were mono-unsaturated. Worse, 37.8 percent of American women were obese, and ate 152.2 grams of fat daily, of which 45.9 grams were mono-unsaturated.

Other factors, admits Moussavi, must also be taken into consideration, such as family history, amount of exercise, consumption of fruit and vegetables. "Our study shows that the consumption of mono-unsaturated fats and maybe other fats also play a role," she says.

In her thesis, under the direction of professors Olivier Receveur and Victor Gavino, Moussavi showed that not only did trans fats lead to heart disease, they also could be associated with a higher risk of obesity.

Source: University of Montreal

Explore further: Adding monounsaturated fats to a low-cholesterol diet can further improve levels

Related Stories

New findings measure precise impact of fat on cancer spread

February 25, 2009

( -- Researchers at Purdue University have precisely measured the impact of a high-fat diet on the spread of cancer, finding that excessive dietary fat caused a 300 percent increase in metastasizing tumor cells ...

Dietary fat linked to pancreatic cancer

June 26, 2009

High intake of dietary fats from red meat and dairy products was associated with an increased risk of pancreatic cancer, according to a new study published online June 26 in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

Recommended for you

How the finch changes its tune

August 3, 2015

Like top musicians, songbirds train from a young age to weed out errors and trim variability from their songs, ultimately becoming consistent and reliable performers. But as with human musicians, even the best are not machines. ...

Machine Translates Thoughts into Speech in Real Time

December 21, 2009

( -- By implanting an electrode into the brain of a person with locked-in syndrome, scientists have demonstrated how to wirelessly transmit neural signals to a speech synthesizer. The "thought-to-speech" process ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.