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Carbs and Fat in Diet: Effect on Obesity
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Carbs and Fat in Diet

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Carbs and Fat in Diet

Low carb diets are now high fashion. Many people who want to lose weight are ignoring the old food pyramid to eat fewer carbohydrates and more protein. Low-carb foods are now even appearing under big brand names. Is this low-carb eating trend the answer to the obesity and overweight epidemic?

Carbs and Food Pyramid

At one time, the four basic food groups ruled, with dairy and meat products dominating over vegetables, fruit and carbohydrates.

But during the last decade, the U.S. Department of Agriculture food pyramid has emphasized carbohydrates - the "Bread, Cereal, Rice & Pasta Group" - recommending 6-11 servings a day. Coincidentally, this emphasis on carbs has coincided with an increase in the number of fat and diabetic Americans.

Are Carbs or Fats the Cause of Obesity

But are carbs the culprit? Was fat ever the culprit? Can we blame a whole food group for our weight problems? Almost certainly not. It's not a question of banning entire food groups, it's a matter of choosing "better" carbs, and "better" fat. For instance, better carb choices include, brown rice, brown pasta, and brown bread, and more vegetables. While better dietary-fat options include things like olive oil, canola oil, flaxseed oil and fish oils.

And then there are the bad fats, like the trans-fats found in most cookies and crackers and many margarines. They are not even mentioned in the current food pyramid. Trans-fatty acids lower good cholesterol and raise bad cholesterol, and also decrease the absorption of omega-3 fatty acids like fish oils.

Good Carbs in Diet

Most diet nutritionists and dietitians state that there are good carbohydrates to be eaten, and that they can make a difference. Even if we only followed the recommendation of getting five servings of vegetables a day, obesity would drop and health would rise.

A revision of the USDA diet pyramid is due soon. Nutritionists will need to balance the new research on low-carb diet and health with the known associations of bad fat and heart disease.

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