Let’s talk about fat.
We live in a society that views all fat as bad. Fat free everything everywhere. Dire warnings about being overweight and how much obesity is costing the healthcare systems. Fat has been demonised. Fat is officially BAD FOR YOU.
Much of this hysteria is fuelled by the mega billion pound “diet” industry. Make no mistake, people, this industry is huge and has a few spare dollars to throw PR at the public, demonising fat, spreading baseless misinformation and adding to the general social anxiety linked to looks, so prevalent in our society today.
Here is a rant that I wrote to the great activist, June Alexander, when discussing the whole Jenny Craig CEO presenting to a girls’ school conference fiasco.
I think we have to remember that we live in a world where fat – all fat – is bad and we are about to all die of obesity. No one in the real world seems to get that Jenny Craig (owned by Nestle) is in the business of making money – a lot of money – not in the business of making us happy, healthy bunnies. Repeat business is what they need to sustain their profit levels and repeat business is what they get from hundreds of thousands of (mainly) women, with their self esteem in shreds, because of a number on a scale.
It is nothing but a number, people. It is not a measure of physical or mental health. Whether people are eating disordered or not, this constant bullying by the diet industry, which has no evidence base to support its more preposterous claims of becoming happier by losing half a stone (7 lbs or 3.2 kg), is putting people’s mental health at severe risk and ruining lives.
Jeez, they have more power than the tobacco industry had in the 1960s and PEOPLE BELIEVE THEM.
I am hoping to bust that “fat is bad for you” myth right here. I don’t need acres of newspaper, demonic headlines, scare tactis or even a 5 minute slot on the Today Programme or Jay Leno. It is an essential part of our daily diet. The recommended daily intake is 35% of your RDA. Yup. You read it right. 35%. Now I get lost in the science of it all but fat seems , as if it plays a part in helping Cardiovascular disease, alongside brain function, cancer, neurology….
Limited evidence suggests that long-chain n-3 fatty acids may delay or prevent the progression of certain psychotic disorders in high-risk children and adolescents. The individuals diagnosed with schizophrenia exhibited reduced levels of both n-6 and n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids, and the results of a study in which the treatment of high-risk children with a dietary supplement containing both eicosapentaenoate and docosahexaenoate produced a statistically significant (95% confidence, but not 97.5% confidence) decrease in progression to schizophrenia.
Consumption of ethyl eicosapentaenoate (E-EPA) partially countered memory impairment in a rat model of Alzheimer’s disease and produced a statistically insignificant decrease in human depression.
Studies looking at the effects of omega-3 fatty acids on cognitive performance have seen mixed results. A study published in 2005 showed beneficial effects of omega-3 fatty acids in the cognitive performance of health subjects. However, a later study found that fish oil had no effect on cognitive performance in individuals 65 years of age or older without dementia.
To finish with, a little quote from the British Nutrition Foundation, as recommended by NHS choices for Nutritional Guidelines. I am delighted to see that the BNF have not fallen into the “obesity hysteria” trap that is so prevalent in our society today.
- Fat is made up of different types of fatty acids, some of which are essential for health in small amounts. Fatty acids are usually classified as saturated, monounsaturated or polyunsaturated depending on their chemical structure. Among the polyunsaturates there are further structural differences which determine whether the fatty acid is known as an omega 3 (n-3) or omega 6 (n-6) fatty acid. These structural differences directly influence health effects, with mono- and polyunsaturates usually being associated with health benefits when consumed as part of a varied diet. The exception to this is trans fatty acids, which are unsaturated in terms of their structure but behave in the body like saturated fatty acids.
- Fat provides energy; 1 gram provides 37 kJ (9 kcal). Foods that contain a lot of fat provide a lot of energy. Fat is a carrier of fat-soluble vitamins and is necessary for their absorption.
- A high intake of saturated or trans fatty acids can have adverse effects on health.
- In the UK, saturates currently contribute 13% of food energy, which is above the recommendation of 11%, whereas average total fat intake is close to the 35% of food energy recommended for the population