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Lowering dietary fat modestly could curb type 2 diabetes

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
Diabetes risk

Lowering fat in the diet might be enough to stave off and slow progression of type 2 diabetes.

University of Alabama at Birmingham investigators found even modest reductions in fat intake for overweight individuals improved glucose tolerance and insulin resistance after 8 weeks of a modestly lower fat diet.

Sixty nine participants were included in the research. One group was given a lower fat diet consisting of 27 percent fat and 55 percent carbohydrate. The low carbohydrate diet was 39 percent fat and 43 percent carbohydrate.

Eight weeks of lower fat improves glucose tolerance

“At eight weeks, the group on the lower fat diet had significantly higher insulin secretion and better glucose tolerance and tended to have higher insulin sensitivity,” said Barbara Gower, Ph.D., professor in the Department of Nutrition Sciences at UAB and lead author of the study. “These improvements indicate a decreased risk for diabetes.”

The study is important, because it shows type 2 diabetes risks can be lowered without weight loss, which is difficult for many. The amount of food given to the participants was just enough to maintain current weight.

The authors suggest it may be possible to lower risk of diabetes by keeping fat intake at 27 percent of diet.

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“People find it hard to lose weight,” said Gower. “What is important about our study is that the results suggest that attention to diet quality, not quantity, can make a difference in risk for type 2 diabetes.”

Laura Lee Goree, R.D., L.D., a study co-author explains the diets would be easy to adopt. A typical example might be sesame chicken with rice, snow peas and carrots, frozen broccoli, fat-free cheese, oranges and a dinner roll.

Goree says the study also shows lowering fat in the diet might slow the progression of diabetes, independent of weight loss.

African-Americans had an even stronger improvement in markers for diabetes risk, also found in the study.

The authors say lowering fat, regardless of weight loss, may be an effective strategy for reducing the chances of diabetes among African-Americans who are at high risk for the disease.

The study shows modestly reducing fat intake, without reducing food quantity or losing weight, might make a difference for curbing diabetes risk. The authors say more studies are needed to determine whether lowering fat or carbohydrates was responsible for improvement in insulin resistance glucose tolerance.

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