New Study Highlights the Impact of Fat on Weight Gain

fish and chipsA collaborative study between Aberdeen University and the Chinese Academy of Sciences looked at what components of food intake caused weight gain.

The research used mice, therefore, conclusions of what would result in humans is limited.

Mice were put on 30 different diets that vary in their fat, carbohydrate (sugar) and protein contents over a period of 3 months. Over 100,000 measurements were made of body weight changes and their body fat was measured using a micro MRI machine.

Professor John Speakman of Aberdeen University who led the study, said:

“The result of this enormous study was unequivocal – the only thing that made the mice get fat was eating more fat in their diets.

“Carbohydrates including up to 30% of calories coming from sugar had no effect.

“Combining sugar with fat had no more impact than fat alone.

“There was no evidence that low protein (down to 5%) stimulated greater intake, suggesting there is no protein target.

“These effects of dietary fat seemed to be because uniquely fat in the diet stimulated the reward centres in the brain, stimulating greater intake.

“A clear limitation of this study is that it is based on mice rather than humans. However, mice have lots of similarities to humans in their physiology and metabolism, and we are never going to do studies where the diets of humans are controlled in the same way for such long periods. So the evidence it provides is a good clue to what the effects of different diets are likely to be in humans.”

The results of the study were published in  the journal Cell Metabolism.

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  1. It seems obvious enough, and when I see these studies, I tend to wonder why they spend all that money on research, when it’s plain to see, all around us – eat fat, you get fat. But… here’s another story…….
    Some years ago, I was put on high doses of steroids – the only warning I was given, was that they would weaken my immune system, and that I might “get a bit peckish”.
    ‘Peckish’, doesn’t cover it, by any means. I developed what I referred to as ’The Hunger.’ In my life, thank goodness, I’ve never had to feel hungry, not really hungry – what we think of as hungry, is just the edge of hunger. We feel that our tummy is empty, maybe feel a bit wobbly, we know that we need some food, and, usually, food is there, to be had. This was different. I realised that this must be what it’s like for people in the world, who experience real hunger. It’s like having something, literally gnawing at your insides, plus an emptiness which can’t be filled. Hard to describe, but it feels horrible. It was also insatiable. I could eat a huge tea – a full pie to myself, when we’d usually have half each, with potatoes and vegetables, then, I could easily have eaten the same thing again. I didn’t. But I could have done. After a few days of this, I realised that, if I carried on eating as I was doing, I would end up being huge, un-healthily huge. So – I decided to just have what I would normally have, for breakfast, lunch and tea – no more than that. I told Mike that, however much I wanted it, not to give me the food. It was up to him, as I was in such a state, anyway, that I couldn’t possibly cook – so he was in charge of the food. I discussed this with the nurse I saw regularly for blood tests, who commended my will–power, said that it was a common problem, and that some people on long-term steroid treatment, did, indeed, get huge. I questioned why they weren’t warned, properly warned, and also given some kind of support in dealing with it? This approach could be preventative medicine, in the long term.
    Anyway , very long story short – this situation made me think that there must be something in us, some chemical in our brains, or whatever, which does control our wanting food – not needing, that’s a different thing – but wanting food, and that presumably, this chemical or trigger, switches off when we’ve eaten enough. The steroids had obviously messed with this control mechanism, and so, I could have just eaten and eaten, but for my willpower – which is strong, and far in excess of my physical size – and, ironically, is what stopped my physical size, from taking over. The will power was in control. It was very hard to maintain this control, but I did it.
    I then thought, what if someone could isolate whatever this ‘trigger’ is, and use this knowledge, to help people who just can’t help themselves from eating to the extent that it’s very, very bad for them, and for the Health Service too. If someone doesn’t mind being fat, that’s their business, but there are those who are not in control – they genuinely can’t help themselves. Could be said that they could exercise their will power, as I did, but folk are different, and there are other ways in which I have weakness. We’re all different. Any hoo – I thought all these things. Reading this article, brings it back to me. There is something, somewhere in us, which can be changed by therapy or medication. I am no friend of medication – that steroid treatment, ultimately, damaged me a great deal, but…..if the scientists could isolate what the trigger is, for why some folk genuinely can’t stop eating, and getting unhealthily over-weight, that would be very helpful. And it must be possible, as what happened to me, and what happens to other people when given, for example, steroids, shows that there is a trigger there which can be controlled, turned on and off. Normally our own body system does so, but, sometimes these controls go awry – whether naturally, or through the mis-management of medication.
    Yes, it can seem simple enough – eat fat, you get fat. But, this study mentions the ‘reward’ element in this – that’s another angle – the psychological aspect could also be looked at, when people who can’t help themselves, seek help, as well as the physical/chemical control . The experience also made me think twice about condemning people who are simply huge – some are huge through greed, but some are huge through an in-balance, whether in their emotional state, or because that physical, chemical ‘trigger’ has gone wrong.
    It’s well worth the scientists looking at.
    On a different note, I recently was talking with someone who’s friend was on a cruise on which there were some incredibly fat people, some of whom had nothing ‘wrong’ with them, but had to use mobility scooters to get around the ship, as they were just so fat. She asked one of them, why they ate so much, and the answer was – ”I’ve paid for it”. The trip was all inclusive so this person was determined to eat and eat, and there was no one and noting to stop them, but their own greed, or level of self-esteem.
    And, if anyone wants to take umbrage at my use of the term ‘fat’ – some folk are hefty, some are big-built, others are plain, un-healthily FAT. It’s their business, but there’s no point in tiptoeing around it, especially when it causes problems, for themselves, their families, and the Health Service.
    I’ll now stand back and wait for the coals to fall on my head, for saying so!
    The point I’m hoping to make is….there are reasons for people becoming huge – sometimes it’s plain greed, but sometimes, that ‘greed’, isn’t just plain greed, it’s The Hunger – which has causes and those causes, need paying attention to, for everyone’s sake.

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