Purpose of review
Given the global rates of obesity and the potential link to dietary fat intake, understanding the role of fat in the regulation of food intake is critical. Some short-term, laboratory-based studies demonstrate poor compensation for manipulation of fat content, leading to passive overconsumption, while others demonstrate compensation to levels similar to other macronutrients. The observation of compensation in the short term does not concur with long-term rates of obesity increase. This review discusses factors that may explain at a physiological level these discrepancies, in particular fat structure, dietary adaptation, and palatability.
Medium-chain triglycerides have been demonstrated to be more satiating and promote weight loss. Recent data suggest different gastrointestinal transduction mechanisms elicit vagal afferent firing for fatty acids of different chain length. Dietary adaptation to fat can influence the sensitivity of the feedback response, which appears to be nutrient specific and relate to gastric emptying rates and hormonal feedback. Fat content has been found to influence palatability of foods. Recently it has been demonstrated that increasing palatability can partially override the satiating effects of covertly manipulated macronutrient preloads. Recent data suggest that hormonal influences may also affect the palatability response.
It is becoming increasingly clear that although energy density of diets is a major factor determining intake, macronutrient structure, subject, dietary and taste differences can all play an important modulatory influence on the final response on food intake. Further understanding of these factors and interactions may provide strategies to help aid weight regulation.