Fatty foods hit waistline 'within hours'

Monday, May 14, 2012
Fatty foods hit waistline 'within hours'
Image: Thinkstock

Fat from foods can end up on our waistlines within three hours of eating, according to new research.

Scientists at Oxford University found that an average person can add up to two or three teaspoons of fat to their waistlines in a short time span.

The findings change the previous understanding that the process was much slower — with the fat going first into the blood system for use by the muscles.

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"We found that, after eating a meal, the first fat from it enters the blood about an hour later," Fredrik Karpe, professor of metabolic medicine at Oxford University, told the UK's Sunday Times.

"By the time three to four hours have passed, most of it has been incorporated into our adipose tissue, mostly in the shorter term fat stores around our waists."

Subjects were asked to eat foods containing fatty acids before the fat was traced through the body by the researchers. It was broken down before being absorbed by the gut wall and turned into deposits called chylomicrons. Within an hour, the chylomicrons were in the blood system.

"The process is very fast," said Professor Karpe.

"The cells in the adipose tissue around the waist catch the fat droplets as the blood carries them by, and then incorporate them into the cells for storage."

The good news: the fatty tissue is only stored around the waist for a short term and can be used as energy for exercising.

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The bad news: after this, it moves to the hips, bum and thighs for the long term.

The advice: exercise if you don't want that schnitzel and chips ending up on your waistline. Tell us something we don't know, scientists!

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