What is fat?

BY: Priscilla Asantewaa Obeng
The fat cells

Everybody today is so weight-conscious, and so many people are on diets, that you could probably say fat is something nobody wants.

Yet fat, of course, is very neccesary to the body. It accumulates in this way: At certain points, the connective- tissue cells become filled with fat. First, tiny droplets appear inside the cells. They increase in size, run together into a large drop, and finally fill the cell and swell it out like a balloon. Eventually, the cell is changed into a large drop of fat surrounded by a thin envelope of tissue.

This takes place only in certain parts of the body. The ears, nose, forehead and joints of the body normally have no fat tissue. Usually, the female body stores more fat than the male body. For example, the normal male body contains 10 per cent fat, but a normal female has about 25 per cent. This means that a young man may have about 13 pounds of fat in his body  and a young woman about 35 pounds!

The chief reason the body stores fat is to have it as a food reserve. It is especially suited for this because fat is the best and most concentrated fuel that we know. The normal daily fuel of the body is sugar, which we obtain from starches. We burn up sugar very easily; it is a more difficult process to burn fat. But fat produces more heat than an equal amount of sugar. In fact, fat has about twice the energy value of sugar. Because of this, and the difficulty with which it burns, fat is especially suitable as a reserve to be stored in the body. When you take in too little food for your body's needs fat reserves begin to be used up.

Another reason the body needs fat is as a padding material. It acts like a water cushion. It can't be compressed, because it  is resilient. These water cushions of fat are found in the buttocks so we can sit comfortably, under the arch of the foot, under the skin of the palm, in each cheek of the face, and in the cushions on which our eyeballs rest.

The third use of fat for the body is as an insulating material that keeps the body from losing heat.

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