Fat substitute as bad as the real thing

Turns out that olestra—the Procter & Gamble-produced, calorie-less, synthetic fat substitute that also goes by the brand name Olean and is found in fat-free potato chips, such as Lay’s Light, Ruffles Light and Pringles Light chips—isn’t really all that light, a number of news sources reported recently.

A brand-new study from Purdue University revealed that eating potato chips made with olestra could actually cause a person to gain weight rather than lose it. Rats who were fed the fake-fat chips along with regular potato chips ate more food in general, and gained more weight and fatty tissue than rats that ate only the higher-in-calorie, regular chips. Additionally, after potato chips were taken out of the rats’ diet, the ones that had eaten the faux-fat chips did not lose weight.

How to make sense of this?

“Our research showed that fat substitutes can interfere with the body’s ability to regulate food intake, which can lead to inefficient use of calories and weight gain,” said Susan E. Swithers, the study’s lead researcher.

Better to stick to healthful food that is naturally low in both fat and calories.