Consuming the Wrong Oil Makes You Fat and Lazy, Research Shows

A diet high in the polyunsaturated fatty acids found in some common oils, without enough of the monounsaturated fatty acids found in olive oil, is correlated with sedentary behaviors.

May. 4, 2017
By Paul Conley

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The secret to good health is a proper diet and exer­cise. And the role of olive oil in the for­mer is well known. But new research sug­gests that eat­ing olive oil rather than other com­mon oils may make also peo­ple more likely to exer­cise.

Nobody has made this con­nec­tion and it’s time for an inter­ven­tion.- Sanjoy Ghosh, University of British Columbia

Sanjoy Ghosh, a pro­fes­sor at the University of British Columbia, has found that con­sum­ing large amounts of polyun­sat­u­rated fatty acids (found in corn, sun­flower, and sim­i­lar oils) rather than monoun­sat­u­rated fatty acids like those found in olive oil, makes peo­ple fat and lazy.

The effects are par­tic­u­larly pro­nounced in girls and young women.

Ghosh, work­ing with a team of researchers and data ana­lysts, showed that a diet high in polyun­sat­u­rated fatty acids (PUFAs) cor­re­lated with TV watch­ing and other seden­tary behav­iors.

PUFAs are com­monly found in con­ve­nience foods like chips and cook­ies. No such cor­re­la­tion was found with the monoun­sat­u­rated fatty acids (MUFAs) in olive and avo­cado oils.

Interestingly, con­sum­ing the sat­u­rated fats in meat and dairy prod­ucts also did not lead to seden­tary behav­ior, the researchers said.

The new research throws much of exist­ing food sci­ence into ques­tion. PUFAs, for exam­ple, are also com­monly found in salmon, which is widely believed to be healthy. And sat­u­rated fats have long been crit­i­cized by health advo­cates.

Put down the cookie, and shut off the TV

The researchers stud­ied females in 21 European coun­tries. The first stage of the study focused on pre-teen girls. The sec­ond stage exam­ined adult women. Blood glu­cose lev­els, hours of tele­vi­sion watch­ing, and other indi­ca­tors were recorded.

The results, Ghosh told reporters, show a clear con­nec­tion to the con­sump­tion of polyun­sat­u­rated fatty acids and an increase in seden­tary behav­ior. A sig­nif­i­cant cor­re­la­tion was shown between the seden­tary behav­ior of the 11-year-old girls and PUFAs. In addi­tion, the con­sump­tion of PUFAs was weakly asso­ci­ated with dia­betes among adult women.

Nobody has made this con­nec­tion and it’s time for an inter­ven­tion,” Ghosh said in a press release. And if some­one is begin­ning an exer­cise pro­gram with­out tak­ing a close look at the fats, espe­cially PUFAs they are con­sum­ing or chang­ing what they’re eat­ing, then it might be doomed to fail­ure.”

The research was funded was by the Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research, the Egg Farmers of Canada, Dairy Farmers of Canada and Canadian Diabetes Association.

The study, pub­lished in the PLOS One research jour­nal, fol­lows a 2015 study by Ghosh and other sci­en­tists that con­sum­ing omega‑6 polyun­sat­u­rated fats, or n‑6 PUFA, is asso­ci­ated with seden­tary behav­ior in mice.

I am not a dietit­ian nor a med­ical doc­tor, but all recent evi­dence points out switch­ing to monoun­sat­u­rated fats, and that even a sat­u­rated fat like but­ter might be health­ier,” said Ghosh.


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