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Face the Fats

The Biochemistry of Lipids


Nancy A. Rice
Department of Biology
University of South Alabama


This clicker case introduces students to the biochemistry of lipids through the story of Pete, a college student who begins to consider his nutritional fat intake after watching a commercial for the cholesterol-lowering drug Vytorin. In this case, students learn to differentiate the chemical composition of steroids, phospholipids, and fats as well as how lipids affect our health, both in positive and negative ways. Additionally, students learn how trans fats are manufactured and why they can have negative health side-effects. The case is designed for use in an introductory biology course either for science majors or non-majors. It could potentially be further modified for use in an upper-level biochemistry or cell biology class. The case is called a clicker case because it combines the use of PowerPoint slides (~3.74MB) and student response systems ("clickers") with a case storyline and questions. The case could be modifed however for use without these technologies.


  • Define lipid and biochemically differentiate steroid, phospholipid, and fat.
  • Explain the biochemical and nutritional differences between saturated and unsaturated fats.
  • Know how cholesterol and fats are transported through the bloodstream.
  • Understand how trans fats are generated and why they are unhealthy.


Fats; lipids; fatty acid; HDL cholesterol; LDL cholesterol; saturated; unsaturated; trans-fat

Topical Areas


Educational Level

Undergraduate lower division, Undergraduate upper division


PDF, PowerPoint

Type / Methods

Clicker, Interrupted



Subject Headings

Biology (General)  |   Biochemistry  |   Cell Biology  |   Nutrition  |   Food Science / Technology  |   Public Health  |  

Date Posted


Teaching Notes

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Supplemental Materials

The following supplemental materials are recommended for use with this case study:

  Click-and-Learn: Molecular Structure of Fat hhmi/
  Click-and-Learn: How the Body Uses Fat hhmi/
  Poster: The Science of Fat hhmi/

Answer Key

Answer keys for the cases in our collection are password-protected and access to them is limited to paid subscribed instructors. To become a paid subscriber, begin the process by registering.


The following video(s) are recommended for use in association with this case study.

  • Animation: The Fate of Fat hhmi/
    This short animation provides an overview of how dietary fat gets digested, packaged, and sent to various tissues for storage or energy. Running time: 2:08 min. Produced by: HHMI BioInteractive.


Sarah Spinette
Rhode Island College
Providence RI
I have made a modified form of this that incorporates Trans-fatty acids if anyone is interested.