Background: India is undergoing rapid nutrition transition concurrent with an increase in
obesity, metabolic syndrome, and type 2 diabetes (T2DM). There is a shift from a healthy traditional
home-cooked high-fiber, low-fat, low-calorie diet, towards increasing consumption of packaged,
ready-to-eat foods which are calorie-dense and contain refined carbohydrates, high fat, salt and sugar;
and less fiber. Although fats and oils have been an integral part of our diets, there is a change in the
pattern of consumption, in terms of both quality and quantity.
Methods: A literature search was conducted using the terms “fats, oil consumption in India, effects of
vegetable oils, obesity and T2DM in Indians” in the medical search database PubMed (National Library
of Medicine, Bethesda, MD, USA) from 1966 to June 2016. A manual search of the relevant
quoted references was also carried out from the retrieved articles. Data have also been taken from nutritional
surveys in India and worldwide, websites and published documents of the World Health Organization,
the Food and Agricultural Organization, National Sample Survey Organization and websites
of industries related to oil production.
Conclusion: Increasing use of saturated fat, low intake of n-3 poly unsaturated fatty acids and increase
in trans-fatty acids, along with increasing intake of dietary sugars has been noted in India.
Most importantly, traditional false beliefs and unawareness about health effects of oils continues to be
prevalent. Aggressive public health awareness programs coupled with governmental action and guidelines
tailored for Indian population are required, to promote less consumption of fats and oils, use of
healthy oils and fats, decreased intake of saturated fats and trans fatty acids, and increase intake of n-3
Poly-unsaturated fatty acids and mono-unsaturated fatty acids.