The Big ( Dietary) Fat Problem

In today’s article, I want to divert some of the negative attention away from carbohydrates and take a look at fat intake in the Canadian population.

There is no denying that foods containing fat are an important source of energy and nutrients. 

Obviously fats from certain sources such as fish, nuts, seeds, avocados, oils etc. are considered particularly healthy. 

But how frequently are these foods actually consumed in the Canadian population?

As we will find out shortly, not nearly as much as other types of less useful fats.

The Big Fat Problem 

The recommended range of calories consumed from fat ( known as the AMDR) is  20-35%.

However, about a quarter of middle-aged Canadians  consume fat beyond this level.

And, it’s not the so-called “healthy” fats that are contributing the bulk of this value. 

Where are these fats coming from then?

The Top 7 Sources of Fat in The Canadian Diet: 

1. Pizza, Sandwiches/Subs, Hamburgers, Hot dogs:   You can see here that the majority of fats from these meals would be derived from the meat itself and any potential toppings and sauces.  

2. Baked Goods ( cakes, cookies, muffins, donuts):  These foods , which are so often associated with carbohydrate consumption, actually end up representing the second most significant source of calories from fat in the Canadian diet.

3. Milk/Milk-based beverages:   Milk makes this list, I imagine, due in part to its wide spread consumption.  

4. Pasta & Chicken Dishes:   These types of dishes are both commonly consumed and likely to be prepared with higher fat/calorie sauces or dressings, or prepared in a high-fat manner ( such as frying/deep-frying). 

5. Salads ( with dressing):   Not the first time that salad dressing has made one of these lists. An important reminder to be mindful of your selections whether you are at home or in a restaurant. Try to opt for modest amounts of oil/vinegar/lemon juice.

6. Cheese:  I’m not a huge fan of cheese due to the overall caloric/sodium content of many varieties.  Sure enough, it is one of the top contributors of fat to our diets.  

7. French Fries:  Fries make the list because they are both high in fat and relatively widely available/consumed. 

Data taken from Canadian Community Health Survey (CCHS 2004) 

Take Away Message

Depending on the perspective from which you are reading today’s article, there are different points to keep in mind.

For Health Professionals: Be mindful of foods on this list as potentially unexpected sources of excess calories and fat in your clients diets. 

For The Everyday Person: If you are curious as to the foods in your diet that may be compromising your weight management and healthy eating goals, consider the foods on this list. They are, in most cases, high in calories and low in nutrients. 

As always, I hope today’s article has provided some valuable insights.

Until next time,


Andy De Santis RD MPH