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Surprising Science

Fat Substitutes Make You Fatter

Counting on food with fake fats to help you lose weight? Better count again because a new study with rats shows that low-calorie fat substitutes can actually promote weight gain. 

What’s the Latest Development?

A new study published in the journal Behavioral Neuroscience says that foods with low-calorie fat substitutes may promote weight gain rather than reduce it: “The use of food products designed to mimic the sensory properties of sweet and fat while providing fewer calories has been promoted as a method for reducing food intake and body weight. However, such products may interfere with a learned relationship between the sensory properties of food and the caloric consequences of consuming those foods.” 

What’s the Big Idea?

The results of the study indicate that confusing the body about what it is consuming is not a good idea. When foods taste fatty, the body expects to receive a high-calorie meal. But when fat substitutes are used, what the body expects and what it receives are two different things. “These results extend the generality of previous findings that interfering with a predictive relationship between sensory properties of foods and calories may contribute to dysregulation of energy balance, overweight and obesity.”


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