Dietary fat plays several important roles in the body. First, fat is the most concentrated source of calories as it provides 9 calories per gram. Carbohydrate and protein provide less than half that amount, at 4 calories per gram each. Second, fat is the preferred energy source to fuel the body. And third, fats are used in the body as structural components in cell membranes and as the backbone for hormone-like compounds known as prostaglandins. Since the human body has an almost unlimited capacity to store fat, eating a diet too high in fat can lead to obesity. The goal is to decrease your total fat intake, especially your intake of saturated fats, trans-fatty acids (also called hydrogenated fats), and omega-6 fats, while increasing your intake of omega-3 fatty acids and monounsaturated fatty acids.


Trans fats are in moist bakery muffins and crispy crackers, microwave popcorn and fast-food french fries. Even the stick margarine you may rely on as a “heart-healthy” alternative to saturated-fat-laden butter may contain trans fats.

Once hailed as a cheap, heart-friendly replacement for butter, lard, and coconut oil, trans fats have, in recent times, been denounced by one Harvard nutrition expert as “the biggest food-processing disaster in U.S. history.” Why? Research now reveals trans fats are twice as dangerous for your heart as saturated fat, and cause an estimated 30,000 to 100,000 premature heart disease deaths each year.

Trans fats are worse for your heart than saturated fats because they boost your levels of “bad” LDL cholesterol and decrease “good” HDL cholesterol. That’s double trouble for your arteries. Unlike saturated fats, trans fats also raise your levels of artery-clogging lipoprotein and triglycerides.


Salad and cooking oils from any source—olives, seeds, or corn—are useful in human nutrition. They are the principle source of one of the fatty acids required in human diets (linoleic acid), and they are low in “bad” saturated fatty acids and high in “good” unsaturated ones. They are the biggest single food source for vitamin E in the American diet. And they make salads and vegetables taste better so you will eat more of these foods. They are, however, a confusing, horrible mess to deal with because they pose all kinds of health issues: calories, saturation, rancidity, ratio of omega-6s to omega-3s, health claims, taste, and cost.


Steven Greenstreet

Obesity rates in the United States have reached epidemic proportions in recent years. The Centers for Disease Control estimate that at least 110,000 people die per year due to obesity and 1/3 of all cancer deaths are directly related to it. Former Surgeon General Richard Carmona remarked that obesity is a more pressing issue than terrorism, “Obesity is a terror within. It’s destroying our society from within and unless we do something about it, the magnitude of the dilemma will dwarf 9/11 or any other terrorist event that you can point out...” From our human evolution and our changing environment to the way our government’s public policies are actually causing obesity, Killer at Large shows how little is being done and more importantly, what can be done to reverse it. Killer at Large also explores the human element of the problem with portions of the film that follow a 12-year old girl who has a controversial liposuction procedure to fix her weight gain and a number of others suffering from obesity, including filmmaker Neil Labute.