In a recent article about the correlation of eating fat and weight gain entitled, Largest Study of its Kind Shows Eating Fat is The Only Cause of Weight Gain, it’s crucial to note that the journalist, NOT the scientists who conducted the research, titled the article.
This is just an example of why you have to be very careful when you read articles about health. The journalist chose to use a title that is an incorrect interpretation of the research study itself.
I’m not going to go into the details of the study. Essentially, it was on mice in a controlled setting. While you can develop models about metabolism based on studies in mice, it’s very difficult to then draw conclusions about the root causes of more complex issues, such as chronic weight gain.
Obviously, the title is meant to get attention. The problem is some people will actually accept the journalist’s conclusions as accurate.
We live in a time where there is a bias against fat because of the decades of teaching that diets higher in fat cause heart disease and weight gain. We now know this is not true.
Consuming a higher fat diet does not cause you to gain weight unless you eat too much of it. Eating any primary macronutrient—protein, carbohydrate, fat—in excessive quantities will eventually lead to weight gain. It doesn’t matter who you are, a mouse or a man.
Higher Fat Diets Aren’t the Problem
I have many patients with insulin resistance and chronic weight gain issues who really need to use a lower carbohydrate, higher fat diet to correct the hormonal signaling going on in their body so they can begin to lose weight successfully. They are already nervous about eating a diet higher in fat because of all the past information they’ve been exposed to.
When they read an article like the one I’m discussing, it reinforces that old and inaccurate bias and makes it even harder for them to embrace the right next steps to actually solve their problem. Chronic obesity is a condition with many contributing causes. It involves genetics, hormones, environmental factors, stress, sleep, body movement, and many other variables. There is no one variable that causes weight gain, and certainly not the eating of fat.
Inflammation and its Role
If you were to try to pick one primary cause or contributor to chronic weight gain and metabolic derangement, it would actually be inflammation. Chronic inflammation is a major cause of many chronic diseases. There are various contributors to chronic inflammation. You can read about them in our resources.
I would suggest that if you eat fake, industrialized fats, such as vegetable oils, canola oils, soybean oils, and other inflammatory sources of fat, then you will create inflammation and therefore gain weight. In this case, eating a lot of fat could cause weight gain. But it would be primarily because you were eating unhealthy fats. Eating healthy fats reduces inflammation and can help with weight loss.
Read between the Lines
I suspect you get the point. You have to read things carefully. Whether it’s to sell more papers, or get people to consume large amounts of sugar, there’s always an agenda. I don’t know the agenda behind this article, but it wasn’t to accurately communicate applicable conclusions from this study.