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Six Things Your Employees Don’t Know About Dietary Fats and Oils

Updated: Dec 15, 2021

Fats have a bad reputation. The name doesn’t help. Here are six things your employees may not know about them.

1. Some fats and oils are very good for you.

Olive oil, for example, has many health benefits. It would seem intuitive that employees should know this — and yet your health risk assessment may be telling them the opposite. Olive oil should not be lumped in as “extra fats/oils when preparing food or at the table” as in the HRA below, the most commonly used in the country:

Fat also makes food taste good. If you want your employees to be in a good mood after lunch, not chastising them about their food choices is a start.

Action step: urge your HRA vendor to update advice about fats.

2. “Eating mostly lower-fat dairy products,” as recommended in the HRA above, may be a bad idea.

In order to make processed foods palatable without fat, sugar is added. Many— if not most— nonfat yogurts are major sources of sugar. Hence this HRA advice under “make healthier choices” is also incorrect:

Whatever the harms of saturated fat in general and dairy fat in particular, certainly the harms of sugar are greater. HRAs should not be encouraging employees to eat foods with hidden sugars.

Action Step: In addition to asking them to correct their advice about fats, urge your HRA vendor not to recommend foods with hidden added sugars.

3. Dairy fats may be beneficial for most people’s health.

While it is too early to tell for sure, research is increasingly finding benefits of full-fat dairy. While keeping in mind that other (largely older) research says the reverse and the issue is far from settled, here are a few newer articles and findings for your consideration:

The third article in particular focuses on diabetes risk, which seems to be greater for people preferring low-fat and nonfat dairy. So you might want to make sure that your diabetes prevention vendor and your HRA vendor aren’t presenting controversial, and likely incorrect, anti-dairy data as settled science.