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Fat Reduction and Weight Loss
How to Reduce Fat and Lose Weight
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Fat Reduction & Weight Loss

This focuses on the potential and actual impact on weight control of use of food products modified to reduce fat content.

Fat Reduction in Foods
Fat reduction in foods can be accomplished in many ways: By physical removal or prevention of fat incorporation, by replacement of fats with non-fat or non-nutritive ingredients, or by alternative food preparation technologies. A very broad range of reduced-fat versions of many foods have been developed and marketed in response to strong consumer demand, particularly during the 1980s and 1990s. This demand was driven by scientific and media promotion of connections between fat intake and health risks, including overweight and obesity.

Fat Reduction in Food & Weight Loss
A large number of epidemiological and controlled intervention studies conclude that reductions in fat intake in general are beneficial for weight loss or reduced risk of weight gain. The latter issue may be particularly important, given the astounding rates of weight gain occurring in many populations, and difficulty of weight maintenance after dieting. However, in most of this research, changes in fat intake per se are not readily distinguished from changes in other aspects of food composition, notably dietary energy density. Also, reductions in fat intake may be achieved by many different dietary routes, not just reduced-fat products alone.

Low Fat Does Not Mean Low Calorie
The growth in the use of these products has paralleled a rise in obesity prevalence in many nations. It is presumed that reduced-fat product use is a reflection of weight concerns, but conceivable that over-consumption of these products could also be a contributor to the problem. Use of reduced-fat foods generally leads to a reduced intake of fat as a percent of energy, and probably has contributed to downward trends in this measure in many populations. However, "reduced-fat" does not directly imply reduced-energy, and actual energy content per weight or unit food is not always reduced in these products. Furthermore, assumptions about dietary benefits based on food composition alone often assume one-to-one replacement of full-fat foods by reduced-fat alternatives. Lastly, there are suggestions - though little hard data - that awareness of "reduced-fat" label information prompts 'deliberate' overconsumption of reduced-fat foods by many consumers.

Low Fat Food & Diet
Fat reduction can deliver a broad range of manufactured food options suitable for consumers concerned with weight control. However, use of reduced-fat products should not necessarily be relied upon as a sole solution to achieve weight management goals. But despite all these caveats, analyses consistently indicate that use of these products is a dietary strategy which is indeed associated with more 'healthy' patterns of foods choice and intake.

Fat-Modified Foods Helpful for Weight Loss
Use of fat-modified foods in place of traditionally-formulated items can be helpful as part of an overall, wilful strategy to reduce fat intake and improve weight control. Effectiveness will depend on composition formulation of specific products, and the extent and manner in which they are incorporated into the diet.

Dr David Mela, Unilever Health Institute, Unilever R & D Vlaardingen, The Netherlands.

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