Issue 23 | January 2016

Scanning electron micrograph of adipose tissue, showing lobules rich in adipocytes

Fat

Fat is a word that carries a lot of weight, conjuring up topics as diverse as obesity, hibernating animals, and what we eat and how we cook it. In this issue, we get to grips with the greasy world of fats and lipids to find out what they do, not just inside us and other organisms but also in the world around us.

It’s a fat, fat world

Infographic: Fat by numbers

A snapshot of the role of fat in our lives

Facing fats

Fats are all around us

A brief history of fat

An apertif of fatty facts

At your service

We use fat for a variety of activities

Fatty fads

Like many things, fats come in and out of fashion

Trading fat

Selling high-fat food can be big business

Fat chance: careers in lipids

Fancy a career working on fat?

Fat in our food

Fat and our food images

An image gallery exploring fat as a nutrient

Don’t take your vitamins

It is possible to have too much of a good thing

Death in small doses: exploring the dangers of bioaccumulation

A bad dinner choice can mean more than disappointment

A lovely spread

The history and health aspects of butter, marg and other spreads

Chick chick chick chick chicken

Kiri Degon traces the history of chicken in our diets

Video experiment: Do we favour fatty foods?

Use the data from our curry-tasting experiment to see if people prefer higher fat foods to lower fat ones

Fat, diets and health

Friend or foe?

Our relationship with fat? It’s complicated

Weight across generations

How can weight be influenced in the womb?

Fat and obesity

How does fat relate to obesity?

Higher or lower?

Healthy eating guidelines can be confusing

Foods that do you good

Looking at foods that promise to make you healthier

Diets for disease

Can what you eat improve the symptoms of a disease?

Living without leptin

This hormone helps tell us we’re full

Focus on cholesterol

Close-up on cholesterol

Cholesterol is a necessary part of all of us

Animation: Cholesterol transport

This animation explores the molecules and mechanisms our bodies use to make sure cholesterol gets to where it is needed.

Cholesterol and atherosclerosis images

An image gallery all about cholesterol and the body

Fat in organisms

Fat in organisms images

An image gallery exploring what fat does in different organisms

Building supplies

Fat helps give our bodies shape

Go with the flow

Membranes are fatty, fluid barriers

At the cellular level

Fatty membranes separate inside from out

Fat on the brain

We need fats for our nervous system

Storage hunters

Plants use lipids for a variety of functions

Fat as a fuel

Fatty acid primer

Saturated or unsaturated? cis or trans? Get to grips with how the carbon bonds in fatty acids can be arranged with this quick guide

Storing fat

How we make triglycerides – one way that the body stores fat

What’s inside your fat cells?

Inside the world of white, brown and beige fat

Meltdown

How we respire stored triglycerides to release energy

Ethical questions

Ethical aspects of fat: exploring the effects of palm oil use

The pros and cons of the global palm oil market

Ethical aspects of fat: what if we used more biofuels?

Exploring one option to reduce our use of fossil fuels

Ethical aspects of fat: should the UK implement a fat tax?

Denmark tried a fat tax – should the UK?

Ethical aspects of fat: exploring the effects of selective breeding

Looking at the dilemmas produced by selective breeding

Ethical aspects of fat: can people be shamed into losing weight?

Exploring the effects of ‘fat-shaming’

Ethical aspects of fat: who’s to blame if a child is overweight?

Are parents responsible for their child’s weight?

The science behind slimming drugs

Exploring how slimming drugs work, and if they’re safe

Historical aspects

The Peckham Fat Boy

Ross MacFarlane on a big star from the past

A lovely spread

The history and health aspects of butter, marg and other spreads

Chick chick chick chick chicken

Kiri Degon traces the history of chicken in our diets

Real Voices interviews

Real Voices: Marie-Pierre St-Onge

Meet Marie-Pierre, an assistant professor at Columbia University in the USA

Real Voices: Stephan Dombrowski

Meet Stephan, a health psychologist at the University of Stirling

Real Voices: Elaine

Meet Elaine, who lives with a metabolic disorder called Gaucher disease

Activities and lesson ideas

Video experiment: Do we favour fatty foods?

Use the data from our curry-tasting experiment to see if people prefer higher fat foods to lower fat ones

Further resources and activities on fat

More resources related to fat from the Wellcome Trust, producer of ‘Big Picture’

Animation: Cholesterol transport

This animation explores the molecules and mechanisms our bodies use to make sure cholesterol gets to where it is needed.

Fat chance: careers in lipids

Fancy a career working on fat?

Fast Facts

Each issue of 'Big Picture' comes with a sprinkling of Fast Facts, fascinating snippets of information on the topic covered.

Browse through all of our Fast Facts indexed by topic