If you don't hesitate while adding an additional dollop of butter or eating just one more bite of deep-fried snacks, chances are that the added fat in your diet is quite high. This was exactly the subject of a recently conducted study by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR). The cities of Ahmedabad and Delhi have topped the list of seven metro cities in daily average consumption of 'added fat'. Researchers took in responses from seven different metro cities- Ahmedabad, Bengaluru, Chennai, Delhi, Hyderabad, Kolkata and Mumbai.
The Indian Council of Medical Research-National Institute of Nutrition (ICMR-NIN) conducted the survey from the database of National Nutrition Monitoring Bureau study (2015-16), ICMR-NIN-Hyderabad. International Life Sciences Institute-India (ILSI-India) supported the study. About the methodology used for assessing added fat intake, Dr A Laxmaiah, the head of the division of Public Health Nutrition in NIN, said they evaluated the intake of an assortment of food such as regular home-made food, packaged food, sweet-based preparations, bakery and biscuits, and milk products to come out with the quantum of added fat across a fairly large sample of 5,123 individuals from 1,293 households.
Professor P K Seth, the chairman of ILSI India, said added fat consumption levels were significantly higher in Delhi and Ahmedabad at 44.4 gram per person daily and 43.9 gram each day respectively. Further, the average intake of added fat in Mumbai and Hyderabad were the lowest at 28.8 gram per person daily and 25.1 gram per person each day respectively, he said.
The average intake of added fat in all the seven metro cities pooled together was 32.6 gram per person each day, which was higher than ICMR-recommended levels at 20g/person/day. Overall, 18 per cent of the total intake of energy was obtained from visible fat, the survey found. The researchers also noted that contrary to general belief, vegetarians consumed more fat (40.7 gram) than non-vegetarians (30.2 gram) in these seven metro cities.
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Dishes that include high quantities of added fat include stuffed parantha, dal fry, rice, chudduva, and mutton biryani. These dishes are commonly found in the cities of Delhi and Ahmedabad respectively. Mutton biryani was also found to contain more fat than its chicken or cereal-based counterparts. Added fat is high in almost all non-vegetarian foods consumed in urban areas, the survey found. Also, recipes that include deep-fried foods have much higher added fat content than the foods that have been boiled or shallow-fried.
The data was collected by the National Nutrition Monitoring Bureau (NNMB) and analysed by the Division of Public Health Nutrition, NIN. The collated data was also used to measure gender-wise consumption of added fat. The survey revealed that men consume more fat at 34.1 gram per person daily, than women who consume 31.1 gram per day across the seven cities.
The ICMR study also had significant results for people of different age groups. Rather than the common belief, the highest intake of added fat was observed in the age group of 36 to 59 (36.1 gram/person/day), followed by 18-35 age group (34.8 g/person/day) and adolescents (32.8 g/person/day). The least intake of added fat was noticed in children under the age of five (15.7/g/person/day).
The findings of the study may paint a gloomy picture, but not all is lost. Making small changes to daily lifestyle patterns and focusing on healthy eating can cut down added fat in the diet. "It is important that people are motivated to have a balanced diet, adopt healthy lifestyle, undertake physical activity, including Yoga," Prof Seth agreed.
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