The Important Role of Fat for Your Body

By Jean Antonello, RN, BSN, obesity and eating disorders specialist and author of The Great Big Diet Lie, How to Become Naturally Thin® by Eating More, Breaking Out of Food Jail and Naturally Thin® Kids,

There are reasons, very real reasons—good reasons—that fat is there, on your abdomen, thighs, arms, neck—everywhere extra padding will fit. This information may help you feel a little better about yourself. Here are the things that fat does for your body that you’ve probably never heard about:

Body Fat:
1. cushions organs
2. provides thermal insulation
3. transports soluble vitamins
4. provides energy reserves when the food supply is inadequat

Pay attention to that last one: Fat provides energy reserves when the food supply is inadequate.

Perhaps the most important role that fat has played in the history of the human race is providing fuel for bodies during times of famine. This was tantamount to the continuation of the human species. If, during times of plenty, humans did not have the ability to store energy in the form of fat, many, most, or all would have died of starvation. Famines usually fluctuated with the seasons. Body fat storage developed as a necessary physiological adjustment from the earliest times of man. Without this adaptive potential, human beings would probably have vanished from the face of the earth.

It wasn’t that long ago that there were real shifts in the availability of food even in our country, particularly for people in colder climates. Bodies in these environments experienced famines typically in the winter and early spring when the food supply was low. As summer moved into fall and food became plentiful, people prepared for famine times by extra eating during these seasons of plenty. Naturally, people stored extra food both externally and internally during abundant seasons for future use during famines.

So, diets are famines and bodies must respond as they are programmed to respond, by adding fat reserves as soon as possible. Otherwise, survival is at stake. This is why dieters feel their eating gets out of control at times. Their bodies are in charge.

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