In Stress and Health

Fat Distribution in the Body and Health

Within the problem of fat distribution in the body and health, the research is focused on the issues regarding the relationship between high fat foods and obesity or overweight of the population. It has been established the existence of the inherent limitations with the convention of grouping fatty acids based only on the number of double bonds, i.e. saturated fatty acids (SFA), monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFA) and polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA). This classification is being employed for the purpose of describing the effects of fatty acids on human health and for developing dietary recommendations. Quite a large number of epidemiological studies investigated total fats, fatty acids, and human health permit to reveal that the major groups of fatty acids are associated with different health effects.

Medical studies have shown that ‘weight management’ through the reduction of excess body fat plays a fundamental role in fighting disease and maintaining superior health. The research also linked the stress of excess body fat to major physical conditions such as cancer [e.g., stroke, hypertension, and heart disease.

The dietary patterns in populations of different societies play a particular role in concentration of fatty acids in consuming foods. I would avoid talking about customs and traditions in food consumption among different cultures due to the issue of globalization and instead would discuss the differences between societies in practicing fat diets.

In 2008 at the Joint FAO/WHO Expert Consultation on Fats and Fatty Acids in Human Nutrition, it was emphasized that based on older intervention studies from industrialized countries it was suggested that diets with lower percent of energy from fat (i.e. %E fat) tend to be hypocaloric and hence are therefore associated with short term weight loss. More recent randomized controlled trials in predominantly overweight populations from industrialized countries, which compared isocaloric diets with different levels of total fat, have shown that a higher %E fat can lead to greater weight loss than observed with low fat diets. Various ecological data from observational studies in developing and transitional countries found that shifting from a lower to a higher %E fat has been associated with both lower and higher total energy intake and to unhealthy weight gain, thus, potentially contributing to the increasing problem of overweight and obesity. The opposite is observed in industrialized countries where %E fat has decreased while obesity has increased. This comparison of different societies brought the scientists to the insufficient evidence and as a result to conflicting interpretation of results regarding the relationship between the %E and adult body weight. Based on this premise the WHO researchers concluded that at this stage it is impossible “to determine at a probable or convincing level the causal relationship of excess energy intake and unhealthy weight gain”.

All these discussions make us ask a question where the differences might fall. Perhaps it is critical to pay attention at the evolutionary process in finding new forms of food that will be enough to feed the increasing population all over the world. In other words, we should talk here about genetically modified foods and their effects on the human health.  It is necessary to remark that there is a growing concern that introducing foreign genes into food plants may have an unexpected and negative impact on human health. The differences between countries involving into nanotechnologies in agriculture might be one of the explanations of the disparities found in the association between overweight and health within civilized and developing countries. For instance, in 2009, countries that grew 95% of the global transgenic crops were the United States (46%), Brazil (16%), Argentina (15%), India (6%), Canada (6%), China (3%), Paraguay (2%) and South Africa (2%). The Grocery Manufacturers of America estimate that 75% of all processed foods in the U.S. contain a GM ingredient.


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