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Does Fat Make You Fat?

Does Fat Make You Fat?

Photo courtesy of Robert S. Donovan | Creative Commons

Michelle Pfennighaus

June 23, 2009

Imagine it. You’re watching Friends on prime time and wearing Doc Martins, Snapple iced tea in hand. In front of you is a box of fat free Snackwell’s cookies. Ah, the 90’s.

It made perfect sense. We were all going to get fat unless we stopped eating foods that contained fat! Perfect logic.

The fat free craze didn’t begin in the 90’s though. For decades, scientists were warning of the dangers of fats. Saturated fat was deemed a killer, clogging the arteries and causing our pants to get tighter.

Nevermind that for thousands of years indigenous cultures ate animal fat at nearly every meal and only in recent times had obesity become a problem and heart disease become a #1 killer.

So we ate less fat. I did, anyway. Snackwell’s cookies were super, right? Eat all you want — zero fat. The food industry had a field day, manipulating processed foods until they were marketable as Low or No Fat.

And we bought them at a premium! We declared with glee, “I Can’t Believe it’s Not Butter!” The century ended full of hope for trim waistlines and healthy hearts.

I’m sure I don’t have to tell you what happened.

It didn’t work. We are fatter and sicker than ever before. Many of us — myself included! — ended up with dry skin, constipation and a cold feeling in our bones. Our bodies’ need for fat manifested itself in magnificent cravings we satisfied at 3 a.m. with french fries and Ben & Jerry’s.

Hey Science, what gives?

Here’s what happened.

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