Study finds that overweight children eat the LEAST fat and most sugar

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While it is widely held in the medical and dietetic communities that eating fat is one sure way to become fat, there are for why this just ain’t so. Some of the key explanations for why fat is not necessarily fattening were covered in a previous blog [1]. Despite the dearth of evidence against fat found naturally in the diet, fat-phobia is alive and well today, of course. Two conditions in which fat is often implicated are metabolic syndrome and Type 2 diabetes.

Both of these conditions have as a feature impaired function of insulin ” the hormone chiefly responsible for reducing blood sugar levels. It is generally believed that the more insulin someone secretes over time, the more likely the body is to become ‘numbed’ to the effects of insulin – known as ‘insulin resistance’ in the trade.

Before we go on, let’s get something absolutely clear: insulin is secreted in response to rises in levels of sugar in the bloodstream, and the vast majority of this comes from sugars and starches in the diet.

The reason that this is important is because we are often told by doctors and nutritional scientists that the cause of metabolic syndrome and Type 2 diabetes is fat. The ‘logic’ goes something like this: eating fat causes obesity which causes insulin resistance which leads to Type 2 diabetes/metabolic syndrome.

Except that fat doesn’t seem to be a factor in obesity.

And if insulin resistance is the problem, why cut back on fat? Would it not make more sense to reduce intake of foods that cause insulin secretion and therefore increase the risk of insulin resistance? Surely, cutting back on carbs (sugars and starches) has to be a better bet for those wanting to prevent or reverse insulin resistance?

But this is not just theory ” research is now starting to mount up which supports this concept. Just a couple of weeks ago my blog was devoted to some UK research which found that higher consumption of CARBS (not fat) is associated with an increased risk of metabolic syndrome in adults [2].

Now, a research study has just been published which looked at the association between diet, weight and metabolic syndrome in children.

In a Swedish study, the diets and lifestyles of 182 four-year-olds was assessed. About 20 of these children were found to be officially ‘overweight’ or ‘obese’ [3]. The researcher who performed this study, Malin Haglund Garemo, found that a lot of girls in this study were already showing signs of metabolic syndrome, in the form of weight gain around the middle of the body and disrupted insulin function.

But here’s the kicker:

Children who ate the MOST FAT were the ones LEAST likely to be overweight

Children who consumed the MOST SUGAR were the ones MOST likely to be overweight

Tellingly, the study’s author is quoted as saying, Such results would go against the common perception that fat causes increased insulin production as a result insulin resistance.  I’ll say. And another thing I’d like to say is that the notion that fat is the major provoker of insulin resistance was always illogical.

Why has the establishment got so hung up on fat? Well, no doubt some researchers and doctors are genuinely well-meaning have simply been duped into believing that fat is the major dietary spectre. My sense is that there has been a concerted effort by certain factions within the farming and food industry to divert attention away from blood sugar- and insulin-disruptive foods such as bread, rice, pasta and breakfast cereals.

Yet, common sense and now at least some science dictates that it is these starchy staples, not fat, that are the true culprits in insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome and Type 2 diabetes. The chances of achieving optimal health and weight by making such foods a cornerstone of the diet are very slim indeed.


1. blog post of 8th November 2006

2. blog post of 5th January 2007

3. Garemo M H. Nutrition and Health in 4-year-olds in a Swedish Well-Educated Community. Published by the Swedish Research Council

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