Irrespective of the total calories consumed and the physical activity done, an excessive proportion of fat in the diet leads to a greater accumulation of fat in the abdomen, confirm researchers.
Lead researcher Idoia Labayen, PhD holder in Biology and Tenured Lecturer in Nutrition and Food Science at the UPV/EHU's Faculty of Pharmacy, said that until now it was thought that even with an unbalanced diet, you somehow compensated for it if you got plenty of physical exercise, but this study had showed that this was not the case.
The aim was to study the role played by the lipid component, in other words, dietary fat, in the build-up of abdominal fat, in adolescents. The accumulation of abdominal fat is the most harmful in health terms as it increases the risk of suffering from cardiovascular problems, diabetes mellitus, arterial high blood pressure, high cholesterol level, etc.
To study these aims they worked with a sub-sample of 224 adolescents who participated in the HEalthy Lifestyle in Europe by Nutrition in Adolescence (HELENA) study out of a total of over 3,500, in whom abdominal fat was accurately measured by means of dual-x-ray absorptiometry; dietary habits and physical activity were also measured.
The results of this study have confirmed the hypothesis and show that the percentage of dietary fat is significantly linked to an increase in abdominal adiposity and that this relation is also independent of the levels of physical exercise adolescents do.
The study has been published in the journal Clinical Nutrition.