Challenging the common perception, researchers led by one of Indian origin, have found that Omega-6 (n-6) polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) — referred to as the “healthy fats” — can lead to lazy behaviour, especially in women, as well as contribute to diabetes.
The findings, published in the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry, revealed that a higher consumption of Omega-6 rich in seeds and nuts, and vegetable oils such as soy oil, may significantly increase sedentary behaviour in pre-teen girls.
“Our study does present new evidence that dietary PUFA is strongly associated with sedentary behaviour among pre-teen girls and weakly associated with diabetes among adult women,” said Sanjoy Ghosh, Professor at University of British Columbia – Okanagan, Canada.
For the study, the team examined data — from 21 countries in Europe — specifically relating to pre-teen girls and blood glucose levels of adult women.
They found a significant correlation in sedentary behaviour of the 11-year-old girls and PUFA in their diets. However, the the association was not observed in monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFA).
“This data is extremely significant. Nobody has made this connection and it’s time for an intervention,” Ghosh noted.
Previously, heart disease was linked to saturated fats — an idea that has become increasingly controversial in recent years.
This thinking instigated the intentional removal of saturated fatty acids from most food supplies in favour of MUFA and PUFA.
Currently, all fats in our ‘convenience’ foods like potato chips, energy bars, crackers or burgers use cooking oils like corn, sunflower and soybean and margarine — are rich in MUFAs and PUFAs, Ghosh said.
“If someone is beginning an exercise program without taking a close look at the fats, especially PUFA they are consuming, or changing what they’re eating, then it might be doomed to failure,” he added.