Knowing the various types of dietary fat will help you advise patients on how to modify their fat intake so they do not become overweight, with the associated cardiovascular and metabolic problems.
Fat plays a major role in all the components of the ‘WXYZ syndrome’, which affects many Australians and puts them at risk of cardiovascular and metabolic problems, including diabetes. The components of this syndrome are:
- W = the weight/waist factor. Fat is the most energy dense nutrient (9 calories or 36 kJ versus 4 calories or 16 kJ per gram for both carbohydrate and protein). Overconsumption of energy dense food and drinks can contribute to an expanding waistline.
- X = syndrome X, or the metabolic syndrome as it is more often known. Over-waist or central overweight is associated with metabolic problems and high cardiovascular risk.
- Y = why a particular person develops the metabolic syndrome. The syndrome is associated with the ‘f’ words (forty, family and fat). The fixed risk factors of age and genes set the scene, but it is the modifiable risk factor of fatness that usually precipitates the cardiovascular and metabolic problems. Fatness is also the usual target for lifestyle interventions and sometimes also for medical interventions.
- Z = sleep apnoea, or not getting enough zzz’s, is associated with the other cardiometabolic factors and further increases risk of cardiovascular and metabolic problems. Night-time sleep disturbance adversely affects the hormone profile and daytime tiredness reduces capacity and motivation for lifestyle change.