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Why is It Bad to Eat Too Much Fat?

Tricia Christensen
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Many people, including many experts, believe that eating too much fat is bad for a person's health. Fat is more complex than that, however. The type of fat a person eats is important to consider.

There are a variety of fat sources available, ranging from fats present directly in foods like dairy products, meat, fish, eggs, nuts, and certain vegetables, to fats we add to foods like oil derived from nuts, olives, and various seeds. Typically, three types of fat are talked about: saturated, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated. Another group that must be considered are trans fats, fats that tend to stay solid at room temperature, which include certain vegetable oils, especially those that have been hydrogenated.

In order to consider whether a person is eating too much fat, he must know the types he is eating, which means reading labels and being conscious in his food choices. One should also think about what constitutes "too much," because this can help inform food choices. Eating too little fat can be almost as detrimental to the body as too much fat. Thus it’s important to have a target.

Traditionally, most dietitians, doctors, and health agencies have recommended that no more than 30% of a person's daily calories come from fat. More importantly, only small amounts of one's daily calorie intake should be made up of saturated fat. Trans fats, oil to which hydrogen is added, should be kept to bare minimum intake because it is not healthy, and has little to offer in the way of nutritional benefits. This doesn’t mean a person can’t occasionally indulge in a little bit of these "bad" fats, but choosing better fats, such as those that are monounsaturated, is a healthier choice.

Many experts believe that when a person eats too much "bad" fat, he opens himself up to a number of conditions and diseases. One that is of chief concern is obesity. The growing number of Americans who are obese, and the rate of child obesity, has become increasingly a concern. Being overweight can shorten life span, raise risk of conditions like diabetes, and raise the risk of certain forms of cancer.

Consuming too much saturated fat may not only cause weight gain, but may also have a negative effect on your arteries. Saturated fat consumption boosts "bad" cholesterol, which in turn creates plaque buildup in arteries. This can lead to a variety of heart disease problems like blocked valves that require bypass surgery, and to blood clotting in thinned arteries, which can result in stroke. Trans fat has been shown to correlate to higher risk of cancer, particularly certain cancers that are still difficult to treat, such as breast cancer. High blood pressure is also a concern.

This doesn’t mean people should eat no fat. Certain vitamins are fat soluble, and people who have no-fat diets find they may lose less weight. It’s simply important not to go overboard, and to try to eat "good" fats, those that are monounsaturated and polyunsaturated. Follow your doctor, nutritionist, or government guidelines for healthy eating.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Tricia Christensen
By Tricia Christensen
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a The Health Board contributor, Tricia Christensen is based in Northern California and brings a wealth of knowledge and passion to her writing. Her wide-ranging interests include reading, writing, medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion, all of which she incorporates into her informative articles. Tricia is currently working on her first novel.
Discussion Comments
By anon324959 — On Mar 13, 2013

@anon103496, Post 6: Why are you asking others to help you understand? It sounds like you already have a far better understanding than nearly everyone else.

By anon277880 — On Jul 02, 2012

There is no evidence that saturated fat is bad for you. No proper clinical study has shown that it is. Google "meta analysis saturated fat" and you'll find studies that show this. Dietary cholesterol was never the cause of heart disease. Seems like it's most of the processed vegetable oils (like trans fats mentioned here), grains and carbohydrates like high fructose corn syrup are the enemy.

By anon103496 — On Aug 12, 2010

What is the mechanism by which excess fat gets turned into weight gain?

I thought body fat came from excess glucose in the blood, turned into fat for "energy storage" by insulin. Dietary fat doesn't turn into glucose (except under a starvation). Only carbohydrates turn into blood glucose. The calories associated with dietary fat are not turned into body fat.

If I am understanding things, the calories associated with dietary fat are not even available to the body, because dietary fat doesn't turn in to glucose, and blood glucose is the only mechanism for using ingested calories.

Please help. It's hard to understand all the different explanations.

By latte31 — On Jul 16, 2010

SurfNturf- I agree with you. In fact the fast food documentary, “Super Size Me” illustrates the points you made.

The subject eats a diet of fast food only for breakfast, lunch, and dinner for a period of thirty days. Although the subject was seemingly healthy at the onset of the program, the results were far different towards the end.

He had gained over ten pounds and raised his cholesterol. In addition, he started to develop a fatty liver. This was all in a period of only thirty days. The camera also showed the effects of the high fat diet by his lethargic demeanor.

By surfNturf — On Jul 16, 2010

Millhouse- I agree with you. Moderation is the key with everything. An occasional burger or French fries will not hurt you, but eating this everyday can.

Eating a variety of foods like lean proteins, vegetable and fruits won’t allow you to eat too many foods high in fat for two reasons.

One reason is that the healthier foods tend to make you fuller longer and the second reason is when you contrast how you feel when you eat a healthly and satisfying meal to a fast food meal there is no comparison.

The feeling is very different which will make you less likely to eat too many foods high in fat.

By millhouse — On Oct 23, 2009

Eating too little fat is bad too. My brother tried to go healthy in college and really ate very little to no fat at all. His hair started to fall out. He resumed a more normal diet, and the hair returned. The lesson: moderation.

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a The Health Board contributor, Tricia...
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