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Is fat intake important in the public health control of obesity? [letter]

Sichieri R
American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2000 Jul; 72(1):203-204.

The discussion between Bray and Popkin and Willett has strong implications for the prevention of obesity, a challenge for many countries. As in China and other developing countries, in Brazil, obesity is increasing rapidly. Data from Brazil do not support the hypothesis that dietary fat plays a major role in obesity. Population-based national surveys from Brazil show that for the period of 1974-1989, obesity [defined as a body mass index (BMI; in kg/m2) >30] increased by 92% among men and by 70% among women. In 1975 the mean percentage of dietary energy from fat in Brazil was 26%. In a recent population-based survey conducted in Rio de Janeiro (there are no data available from a national survey), the percentage of energy from fat was 26.6% among men and 28% among women. Over this same time period, the prevalence of obesity in the country rose to the level found in Rio de Janeiro. Thus, a minimal increase in the percentage of energy from fat, at least in men, was associated with a striking increasing in obesity. Also, the prevalence of persons consuming >30% of total energy as fat is not high. In Rio de Janeiro, intake of >30% of total energy as fat varied from 33% among young men to 25% among old men. For women, this percentage varied from 39% to 26%. (excerpt)

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