Not All Fats Are Created Equal

Omega-3 fats reduce obesity-related diabetes and heart disease

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Some fats are good for you.

A new study shows that certain types of fish-fat can protect people against obesity-related diseases, such as diabetes and heart disease.

In a recent study of Yup'ik Eskimos in Alaska, researchers found that obese people with high levels of omega-3 fats were less likely to develop chronic diseases like diabetes and heart disease.

This study suggests that eating more fatty fish - such as salmon and sardines - may help people avoid the risks of obesity.

"Omega-3 fats may reduce the risk of diabetes and heart disease."

In order to study the effects of omega-3 fats on obesity-related risks, Zeina Makhoul, Ph.D., a postdoctoral researcher at the Hutchinson Center, and colleagues looked at data from 330 Yup'ik people living in the Yukon Kuskokwim Delta region of Alaska.

Because the Yup'ik people eat large amounts of fatty fish and have a rate of overweight/obesity similar to the rest of the United States, this population presented a good opportunity to see if omega-3 fats changed the relationship between obesity and chronic diseases, says Makhoul.

The researchers found that obese people with low levels of omega-3 fats had increased blood triglycerides and C-reactive protein. Higher levels of triglycerides and C-reactive protein are known to raise the risk of heart disease and diabetes.

However, obese people with high levels of omega-3 fats had triglyceride and C-reactive protein levels that were similar to those of people with a normal weight.

Even though the Yup'ik population has similar rates of obesity compared to the overall U.S. population, the rate of type 2 diabetes is much lower for the Yup'ik (3.3 percent versus 7.7 percent).  

More research is needed to see if omega-3 fats significantly reduce obesity's influence on chronic diseases.

These results were published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition

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Review Date: 
April 6, 2011
Last Updated:
April 7, 2011