Does fat make you fat? Study on teens says yes

While excess abdominal fat in adults is strongly linked to all sorts of serious health problems, little research has been done on how teens are affected by expanding waistlines – until now.

A study from Spain's University of the Basque Country found that teens who ate higher levels of dietary fat were more likely to have a larger volume of abdominal fat. The findings suggest that even adolescents who engage in rigorous physical exercise can't combat the health effects of bad dietary habits.

"Adolescents are a risk group as far as lifestyles are concerned because they are starting to take their own decisions about what they want and do not want to eat, and they are also going through a period in which many of them have stopped doing any sport, etc.," said lead researcher Idoia Labayen.

Is fat the culprit?

The study analyzed a sample of 224 teens who participated in the HELENA study. The adolescents were assessed for their physical activity habits and their dietary choices.

The hypothesis was that diets high in fat can increase the risk of obesity, even if total caloric intake remains the same. Results confirmed this idea, showing that the percentage of dietary fat the teens consumed was significantly linked to increased abdominal adiposity and was independent of physical activity.

"Despite the fact that physical activity is usually a prevention factor, in this particular case it is not able to counteract it," Labayen said.

The study is published in the journal Clinical Nutrition.

Source: Science Daily

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