How Fatty Foods Lead to Diabetes

Is there a link between saturated fats and type 2 diabetes

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

(RxWiki News) In the past, researchers have found links between diabetes and saturated fat - a type of fat that can increase the risk of heart disease. Now, a new study explains this disfunctional connection.

Researchers found that eating foods high in saturated fat, such as meat and dairy products, can set off a response that makes people resistant to insulin - a hormone that takes sugar out of the blood. Insulin resistance is one of the main causes of type 2 diabetes.

"Eating foods with saturated fats can raise your risk of diabetes."

For years, researchers have struggled to understand the relationship between obesity, insulin resistance, and type 2 diabetes. This new study adds to our understanding of the link between these three conditions .

Basically, eating saturated fats (the "bad fats") triggers a response that makes a person's tissues and organs turn off their response to insulin, thus increasing the risk for type 2 diabetes, explains Jenny Y Ting, Ph.D., from the University of North Carolina and one of the study's authors. 

In Depth

Dr. Ting describes the process in more detail: “The cellular path that mediates fatty acid metabolism is also the one that causes interleukin-1beta production.

“Interleukin-1beta then acts on tissues and organs such as the liver, muscle and fat (adipose) to turn off their response to insulin, making them insulin resistant," Ting further explains. "As a result, activation of this pathway by fatty acid can lead to insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes symptoms.”

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Review Date: 
April 12, 2011
Last Updated:
April 13, 2011