The recommended intake of fats in the American diet is to limit fats to below 30 percent of the total daily caloric intake. One-third of fats should come from saturated fats, with the other two-thirds split evenly between monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fat. It is estimated that in the average American diet (as of 2002), fats make up 42 percent of calories, with saturated fat making up between a third and a half of that amount.
The effects of this excess intake of dietary fat has some well-established implications for the health of overweight Americans. For instance, the consumption of excess amounts of saturated fats has been recognized as the most important dietary factor to increase levels of cholesterol. A high cholesterol level is detrimental to health and leads to a condition known as atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis is the build-up of cholesterol on the walls of arteries, which may eventually result in the blocking of blood flow. When this occurs in the arteries of the heart, it is called coronary artery disease. When this process occurs in the heart, a myocardial infarction, or heart attack, may occur.
Besides the cholesterol implications due to high fat intake, obesity is a factor in the causation of disease. Being overweight or obese is highly associated with increasing the risk of type II diabetes, gallbladder disease, cardiovascular disease, hypertension, and osteoarthritis.
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