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Int J Vitam Nutr Res. 2006 Jul;76(4):262-8.

Controlling obesity: what should be changed?

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  • 1Departamento de Nutrición, Bromatología y Tecnología de los Alimentos, Facultad de Farmacia, Universidad San Pablo--CEU Madrid, Spain.


Edible fats are important food components that enhance palatability by providing texture and enhancing flavour. They also provide essential fatty acids and fat soluble vitamins. In addition, we enjoy eating foods containing fat, but there is also a negative side; excessive consumption may not be good for health, but we still have doubts to answer the question, What are the right amounts and types of fat we should use and eat?. The consumer is now aware of the relationship between dietary fat and health, but there is a great deal of confusion. One of the well-known problems of the increase in fat intake is the higher prevalence of overweight and obesity in all the industrialized countries, for the adults but specially for the children. Several questions arise... What are the health implications of this phenomenon? The health implications include usually a combination of increased risk of cardiovascular diseases, type 2 diabetes, some cancers, arthritis, gallstones, and mental problems. The health implications for the nations could see the start of a decline in longevity. What are the causes of the recent rise in obesity? Individual's energy balance changes due to less energy expanded compounded by more being consumed. What can be done about it? There are three main components driving obesity: First and second, the ubiquitous availability of high energy food as well as a decline in everyday activity. The third is a controlling factor in that humans evolved in an environment prone to food shortages. In fact, our natural drivers are geared to consuming more than we need. Our natural checks serve to answer to hunger and much less to excess. Consequently the ready availability of energy dense foods and decline in metabolic activity both serve to drive obesity. A recent report from WHO (2003) point that the increase in the quantity and quality of the fats consumed in the diet is an important feature reflected in the national diets of countries. An important point is that there has been a remarkable increase in the intake of dietary fats over the past three decades and that this increase has taken place everywhere except in Africa. In fact, the increase in dietary fat supply worldwide exceeds the increase in dietary protein supply. The average global supply of fat has increased by 20 g per capita since 1960's, more pronounced in the Americas, East Asia, and the European Community. An important issue not enough considered is related to the contribution of expanding portion sizes to the obesity epidemic. Many observations hint that portions sizes are increasing. We should remember that larger portions not only contain more energy but also encourage people to eat more, which makes more difficult to balance static levels of physical activity. Marketplace food portions have increases in size universally and exceed the recommended standard ones. Educational and other public health efforts to address obesity should focus on the need for people to consume smaller portions. Another questions that should be discussed but difficult to answer are: What role can the food industry, marketing and advertising play? And schooling? And to what extent can and should the Governments influence lifestyle choices? "Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Willing is not enough; we must do" Goethe.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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