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  1. News Release

  2. Nov 2, 2021

New Survey of Mexican Restaurants Links Lard to Obesity

Worrisome figures from Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and New Mexico, Washington, D.C., Does Far Better

WASHINGTON—A new restaurant survey shows a surprising link between lard use and obesity in those restaurants’ most common customers. An analysis of 223 Mexican restaurants showed that where lard is a common food ingredient, obesity rates among Hispanic Americans are especially high. Lard is used in 71% of surveyed restaurants in Texas and 50% in California. In both states, obesity is highly prevalent among Hispanic Americans (40% in Texas and 36% in California).

In contrast, only 16% of Mexican restaurants in Washington, D.C., use lard, and obesity prevalence is only 25%, dramatically below rates in Texas and California.

Researchers from the Physicians Committee investigated the methods used to prepare beans, finding a wide North-South divide in lard use that was paralleled by major differences in obesity. “Lard used in cooking is likely an indicator of the health-consciousness of a restaurant overall,” said Neal Barnard, MD, president of the Physicians Committee. “Lard is not traditional, not natural, and not healthy.”

Lard is not a traditional ingredient for Latin American food. Beans have been grown in Latin America since time immemorial and contained no lard until the Spanish brought pigs to North and Central America.

lard graphs

When lard is added to beans, their calorie content skyrockets. Ounce per ounce, lard has six times the calories, compared with the beans themselves. Lard is also about 40% saturated (“bad”) fat, the fat linked to high cholesterol levels and Alzheimer’s disease. There is much less saturated fat in corn oil (13%) and olive oil (14%), and there is virtually no saturated fat in beans. 

Founded in 1985, the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine is a nonprofit organization that promotes preventive medicine, conducts clinical research, and encourages higher standards for ethics and effectiveness in education and research.

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