Study Examines Effects of Dietary Fat Consumption on the Risk of Type 2 Diabetes

A recent study found that individuals who consumed higher amounts of saturated and animal fat had higher risk of type 2 diabetes than those that consumed less fat.

Several studies have examined the association between dietary fat and cardiovascular disease, but less is known about the relationship between saturated fat and diabetes risk.
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The study included 3349 individuals involved in the Prevención con Dieta Mediterránea (PREDIMED) study who did not have diabetes at baseline but had a high risk for cardiovascular disease. Participants in the study were divided into two groups: control or Mediterranean diet.

Researchers used detailed dietary information from food frequency questionnaires obtained at the start of the study and during a yearly follow-up. Hazard ratios were estimated using multivariable Cox proportional hazard models to estimate the risk for type 2 diabetes at baseline and from the yearly updated data attained during follow-ups.

A total of 266 cases of diabetes were documented during the 4.3 years of follow-up.

Baseline saturated and animal fat intake was not associated with the risk of [type 2 diabetes],” the researchers wrote. “After multivariable adjustment, participants in the highest quartile of updated intake of saturated and animal fat had a higher risk of diabetes than the lowest quartile (HR: 2.19; 95% CI: 1.28, 3.73; and P-trend = 0.01 compared with HR: 2.00; 95% CI: 1.29, 3.09; and P-trend < 0.01, respectively).”

Participants who consumed the highest amount of animal fat in the Mediterranean diet or control groups had about a 2-fold increased risk for developing type 2 diabetes compared to participants who consumed the lowest amount of animal fat. A serving of butter and cheese was associated with a higher risk of diabetes, whereas the consumption of whole-fat yogurt was associated with a lower risk.

The researchers wrote that their findings emphasize the importance of reducing or eliminating dietary animal fat and substituting it with vegetable sources, such as olive oil.

—Melissa Weiss


Guasch-Ferré M, Becerra-Tomás N, Ruiz-Canela M, et al. Total and subtypes of dietary fat intake and risk of type 2 diabests mellitus in the Prevención con Dieta Mediterránea (PREDIMED) study [published online February 15, 2017]. Am J Clin Nutr. doi:10.3945/​ajcn.116.142034.