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As a result, the trend shifted away from limiting all dietary fats and moved toward understanding the different types of fat in the diet, and choosing healthier fats, which may prevent or delay the development of some diseases.
THE DIFFERENT TYPES OF DIETARY FAT
There are four different categories of dietary fat: monounsaturated, polyunsaturated, saturated, and trans. These fats differ in their chemical structures and physical states—and how your body responds to them.
Mono and polyunsaturated fats are generally liquid at room temperature. Monounsaturated fats are found in vegetable oils like canola, olive, and sunflower oils; non-oil sources include avocados and nuts. Polyunsaturated fats include omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. Omega-3s are found in oily fish such as salmon and anchovies as well as some plant foods, including flaxseeds and walnuts. Omega-6 fatty acids are found in vegetable oils like soybean, corn, and safflower oils.
Saturated and trans fats are usually solid at room temperature. They include animal fats such as lard and butter, the visible fat seen on cuts of meat and poultry, coconut and palm oils, cocoa butter, and the fats found in whole-milk dairy products. Trans fats are formed when liquid fats are processed and hardened into solids; these are considered the most dangerous fats of all.
Monounsaturated, polyunsaturated, saturated, and trans fats play different roles in various body processes, including the transport of cholesterol in the bloodstream, and the development or prevention of inflammation.
The first scenario is called type 1 diabetes, and is related to auto-immunity (the body fighting against itself). The second, called type 2 diabetes, is often caused by a combination of genes and lifestyle. Type 2 diabetes is the more common form of the disease, accounting for more than 90 percent of the cases worldwide, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
STRAINING ECONOMIES AND HEALTH SYSTEMS
The UK is one nation that has been hit especially hard by diabetes, with the number of cases increasing by roughly 60 percent in the past decade. The cost of treating the condition—as well as related complications such as cardiovascular disease, strokes, and amputations—is so overwhelming that it threatens to bankrupt the UK's National Health System (NHS). And the UK is not the only nation faced with this scenario.
As the U.S. population has grown older and heavier, the number of people who are having trouble controlling their blood sugar has climbed.
Two decades ago, about 1 in 10 adults had diabetes. Now, the number if closer to 1 in 7 or 8, or 12% to 14%.
Another 38% of people have blood sugar high enough to put them on the cusp of that diagnosis,a risk category doctors call prediabetes.
“Seeing these high rates of diabetes is quite concerning. I do really think we need a call to action, and we need to do a better job of preventing diabetes in the first place and preventing its complications,” says Elizabeth Selvin, PhD, professor of epidemiology and medicine at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. In a study published last year, Selvin estimated similarly high rates of diabetes. She was not involved in the current study.
The new research also underscored the heavy toll the disease is taking on certain ethnic groups. African-Americans, Hispanics, and Asian-Americans were about twice as likely to have diabetes as whites. They were also more likely to go undiagnosed.
While roughly one-third of whites had not been diagnosed with diabetes, half of Asian-Americans and Hispanics were unaware of their condition.