Is Fat Consumption Causing Obesity?

by Ann Marie Michaels on September 9, 2008

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The Overflowing American Dinner Plate

(Click here to see the chart close up)

Is fat consumption causing obesity?

According to a recent article in the NY Times, The Overflowing American Dinner Plate by Bill Marsh, Americans are eating 59% more fat today than we did 30 years ago.

Stephan (last name unknown), a doctoral candidate in neurobiology and author of the Whole Health Source blog, disputes this.

He says that we eating the same amount of fat we did 30 years ago. He says that what has increased is our consumption of industrial processed vegetable oil:

The problem is, we aren’t eating any more fat than we were in 1970. The US Centers for Disease Control NHANES surveys show that total fat consumption has remained the same since 1971, and has decreased as a percentage of calories. I’ve been playing around with the USDA data for months now, and I can tell you that Marsh misinterpreted it in a bad way. Here are the raw data, for anyone who’s interested. They’re in easy-to-use Excel spreadsheets. I highly recommend poking around them if you’re interested.

The reason Marsh was confused by the USDA data is they have a column in the “fats” spreadsheet called “total fat”. But “total fat” is a misnomer, because it doesn’t include fats from meat and milk. What it reflects is primarily concentrated fats like vegetable oil, butter, lard and shortening. That’s what has increased by 59%, and it’s almost exclusively due to increased use of industrially processed vegetable oil (butter and lard have decreased). Total fat has remained the same because we now eat low-fat cuts of meat and low-fat dairy products to make up for it! Source: Whole Health Source

We’re eating the same amount of fat we did 30 years ago. And yet, “fat” is being blamed for the spike in American obesity.

Perhaps we should look instead at the increase in grains and sugar in our diet. We’re eating 42% more grains (90% of those are refined grains) and 17% more sugar (with a huge increase of high fructose corn syrup).

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{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

Anna September 9, 2008 at 10:25 AM

Thank you for posting the chart. Wowzers!

Personal note – I started in on Iodoral & Maca yesterday. Now I am making journal notations to see how things improve. :-) Since I’ve been hyperthyroid before, I know exactly when to discontinue/reduce/or increase the Iodoral just from my symptoms.


peasprout September 9, 2008 at 9:32 PM

just wanted to let you know that the ice cream turned out very nicely with the honey. I can’t compare though because I haven’t tried to make it with maple syrup. i forgot that I had a jar of brown rice syrup in the pantry, though…that might work as well. next time, i make it with honey, i might throw in a few fresh figs.


cheeseslave September 9, 2008 at 10:15 PM

Oh the figs sound like a great idea! I”m glad the honey worked!


cheeseslave September 9, 2008 at 10:16 PM

Anna, please keep us posted on your progress. I’m excited for you!


Anna (a different Anna) September 11, 2008 at 1:40 PM

Don’t you love Stephan’s blog?

I’ve gotten to the point where I don’t pay attention to the health and diet info in the mass media anymore because it is so distorted and unreliable. My husband hates it when I read the “health” sections in the NYT and our local papers because I just get grumpy from all the misleading, overly simplistic, and flat-out wrong info, info that most people take as goslep because it is in the press. Even my own endocrinologist dishes out conventional, but bad dietary advice (advice that makes my impaired glucose tolerance and hypothyroid conditions worse, not better).


bodydetoxdiet August 3, 2009 at 6:56 PM

lots of americans and europeans are getting obese these days because of over-eating. people should be controlling what they eat or they should workout their body to burn fat.


Jimmy Cruz March 28, 2010 at 11:22 AM

here in Philippines, obesity is also becoming a problem. More and more children are getting obese due to a lifestyle that is not fully of physical activities. most kids just wants to watch TV, play computer games and surf the net.


Gelly Anderson April 7, 2010 at 5:32 AM

Obesity and diabetes are becoming more and more of a problem these days. Actually it is easy to avoid being overweight by just having the proper diet and exercise.


Medo Joe May 12, 2010 at 5:01 AM

First of all, it’s my first visit and i love your header , title and description lol. We really aren’t supposed to eat those – people with low metabolism :( – but who cares i never stop eating them cheese. Heck, you even inspired me to tell my lady make us a cheese cake which she is so good at.
The only thing i wish to do is quit drinking soda coke and similar stuff.
P.S: i’m not as fat as i might sound :p

Stay healthy & cool.
.-= Medo Joe´s last blog ..Finding A San Diego Bootcamp Workouts =-.


Glass Coffee Table · November 8, 2010 at 6:52 PM

obesity has really gone out of hand, i think that we should do some diet modification for all of us `


LeahS July 11, 2011 at 10:07 PM

there are many things that I’m not totally sure about but sugar being at the root of a lot of problems, I am sure. And I have no regrets about giving it up!


Abner September 12, 2011 at 6:22 PM

I am very pleased with all the content articles on your web site. I get so many ideas that helped me to.


Connor September 12, 2011 at 11:58 PM

forums that go in the same subjects? Thanks a ton!


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