What is Fuelling the Obesity Epidemic?

Dr Lynda Williams

Monday, December 10 2012 at 7:30PM

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Dr Lynda Williams

What's the talk about?

It seems logical that a diet high in saturated fat should make you gain weight. But what if you ate the same number of calories from fruit and vegetables? Something instinctively tells you that you wouldn’t gain the same amount of weight, but why is this?

Recent research has shown that diets high in saturated fat - and if you don’t know what’s saturated or not a good rule of thumb is too see if solid at room temperature - actually cause damage to parts of the brain. These areas of the brain not only control food intake but also how the body uses glucose and how much energy is turned into fat. This research tells us why a diet high in saturated fat is bad for us and makes us fatter than calories from other foods.


Dr Lynda Williams has been the leader of the Metabolic Health Group at the RINH since 2003. Research interests in the group range from molecular biology and animal models of nutritional manipulation to human dietary intervention studies all looking at the interaction of nutrition on health and obesity.

She has coordinated a large EU funded project on “Obesity and Disease in Ageing”. Her particular research interests have centered on the role that nutrition plays in the induction of obesity specifically the impact of a diet high in saturated fat on inflammation, which is a hallmark of obesity and obesity related disease. Her recent research findings include a rapid effect of a high-fat diet on gene expression in the brain related to inflammation and cognitive function.