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The role of fats in the lifecycle stages

Linda C Tapsell and Marijka J Batterham
Med J Aust 2002; 176 (11): . || doi: 10.5694/j.1326-5377.2002.tb04571.x
Published online: 3 June 2002

During adolescence and young adulthood dietary fat continues to play important roles as an energy source, a significant cell structural component, a precursor to agents of metabolic function and a potent gene regulator.1 Energy requirements for the final stage of growth can be highly variable, but the increasing prevalence of obesity suggests a problem with energy imbalance. Rather than being the result of excess food intake,2 this has been attributed to reduced physical activity.3 Physical activity levels decline substantially during adolescence and young adulthood.4 Once obese, adolescents are generally even less active than their non-obese counterparts,3 and this is not necessarily accompanied by greater energy or fat intakes.5 Adolescents who are obese are more likely to become obese adults than younger children who are obese.6 As overweight in adolescence is a more powerful predictor of risk of heart disease and atherosclerosis than overweight in adulthood,7 the effect of reduced physical activity at this stage is compelling.

  • Linda C Tapsell1
  • Marijka J Batterham2

  • Smart Food Centre, University of Wollongong, NSW, Australia.

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