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This Common Cooking Oil Causes More Obesity than the Sugar Used in Sodas

Tim Boyer's picture
cooking oil

You cook with what you believe are the healthiest cooking oils for your family’s dinner. But did you know that scientists recently discovered that one common popular cooking oil causes more obesity than coconut oil, and even the sugar used in sodas?!


In a recent article published in the journal PLOS ONE, University of California, Riverside researchers found that in a side-by-side comparison of the effects of saturated fat, unsaturated fat and fructose on obesity, diabetes, insulin resistance and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, that soybean oil surprisingly is not as good for you as was previously thought.

Soybean oil is made up of polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAS), that in the past nutritionists and Dr. Oz have recommended as a healthier choice of oil from plants over those that consisted primarily of saturated fats such as that found in red meat. However, a new study appears to be at odds with this recommendation.

According to a recent study published in the online journal PLOS ONE, scientists fed male mice a series of four diets that contained 40 percent fat―similar to what Americans currently consume. The four diets given were as follows:

• Diet #1 contained coconut oil, which consists primarily of saturated fat.

• Diet #2 contained approximately 50% coconut oil and 50% soybean oil―a main ingredient in vegetable oil.

• Diet #3 contained fructose plus coconut oil.

• Diet #4 contained fructose plus coconut oil and soybean oil.

All 4 groups consumed the same amount of calories, allowing the researchers to directly compare the effects the different oils and fructose had within the context of a constant caloric intake condition.

What the researchers found was that:

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• Compared to the mice on the high fat coconut oil, mice on the high soybean oil diet showed increased weight gain, larger fat deposits, a fatty liver with signs of injury, diabetes and insulin resistance.

• The mice that had fructose in their diets showed less weight gain, smaller fat deposits, and decreased signs of fatty liver, diabetes and insulin resistance. However, those mice with fructose in their diets showed an increase of symptoms of inflammatory bowel disease such as kidney damage and prolapsed rectums.

• The mice on the soybean oil-enriched diet gained almost 25 percent more weight than the mice on the coconut oil diet, and 9 percent more weight than those on the fructose-enriched diet.

• The mice on the fructose-enriched diet gained 12 percent more weight than those on a coconut oil rich diet.

According to a news release from the University of California, Riverside, the study’s results were unexpected.

“This was a major surprise for us—that soybean oil is causing more obesity and diabetes than fructose—especially when you see headlines everyday about the potential role of sugar consumption in the current obesity epidemic,” said Dr. Poonamjot Deol, the first author of the published study.

In a separate study the researchers found that corn oil also induces more obesity than coconut oil, but less so than when compared with soybean oil.

Interestingly, a potential link between soybean oil and obesity in the U.S. can be hypothesized as both the consumption of soybean oil and fructose mirror the rise of obesity in the U.S. According to the news release, soybean oil now accounts for 60 percent of edible oil consumed in the United States, found primarily in processed foods, margarines, salad dressings, snack foods and is the oil of choice in many restaurants and fast food venues.

The researchers cautioned that the analysis of the 4 diets regarding metabolic syndrome related effects did not also include the effects they had on cardiovascular diseases and note that the consumption of vegetable oils could be beneficial for cardiac health, even if it also induces obesity and diabetes. The authors announced that their research will soon reveal comparisons made with olive oil as a factor.

Reference: PLOS ONE Published: July 22, 2015 “Soybean Oil Is More Obesogenic and Diabetogenic than Coconut Oil and Fructose in Mouse: Potential Role for the Liver”; Poonamjot Deol et al.



Is there any information on who funded the study?
Hello and thanks for your question. If you click the citation link the funding sources are published along with informaton about whether there was any competing interest from the researchers - which there was not.