Biomarkers Could Predict Which Diets Will Be Successful

Fasting plasma glucose levels could be used to indicated which diet overweight patients would benefit most from, according to a recent study.

In the study, the researchers analyzed concentrations of fasting plasma glucose and fasting insulin using data from 3 randomized trials: Diet, Obesity, and Genes (DiOGenes) trial, Optimal Well-Being, the Development and Health for Danish Children Through a Healthy New Nordic Diet (OPUS) Supermarket Intervention (SHOPUS) trial, and the Nutrient-Gene Interactions in Human Obesity (NUGENOB) trial.
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Participants in the DiOGenes trial completed an 8-week weight loss intervention followed by a 26-week period where participants consumed ad libitum of either a high or low glycemic diet. In the SHOPUS trial, participants consumed ab libitum the New Nordic Diet (high in fiber and whole grains) or a control diet for 26 weeks. Those who participated in the NUGENOB trial consumed a hypocaloric low-fat and high-carbohydrate diet, or a high-fat and low-carbohydrate diet for 10 weeks.

At baseline, participants were categories as normoglycemic, prediabetic, or diabetic according to their fasting plasma glucose level.

Individuals with prediabetes in the DiOGenes trial regained a mean 5.81 kg of weight on the high-glycemic load diet compared to those on the low- glycemic load diet. However, normoglycemic individuals regained a mean 1.44 kg more on the high- glycemic load diet compared with those on the low-glycemic load diet.

Among prediatetic individuals in the SHOPUS trial, individuals lost a mean 6.04 kg more on the New Nordic Diet compared with those on the control diet. Normoglycemic individuals on the New Nordic Diet lost a mean 2.20 kg more compared with those on the control diet.

The participants in the NUGENOB trial who had diabetes lost a mean 2.04 kg more on the high-fat and low-carbohydrate diet compared with individuals on the low-fat and high-carbohydrate diet, but normoglycemic participants only lost a mean 0.43 kg more compared with individuals on the low-fat and high-carbohydrate diet.

These associations were strengthened when fasting insulin was factored into the analysis.

“Elevated [fasting plasma glucose] before treatment indicates success with dietary weight loss and maintenance among overweight patients consuming diets with a low glycemic load or with large amounts of fiber and whole grains,” the researchers concluded.

—Melissa Weiss


Hjorth MF, Ritz C, Blaak EE, et al. Pretreatment fasting plasma glucose and insulin modify dietary weight loss success: results from 3 randomized clinical trials [published online July 5, 2017]. Am J Clin Nutr. doi:10.3945/​ajcn.117.155200.