Lead researcher Martin Muurling at the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research put obese mice on different diets in which the total energy intake and the final body weight were the same. He then studied the impact of these diets on insulin sensitivity.
He found that mice that only received low-fat products were more sensitive to insulin than mice that ate small portions of high-fat food. A low-fat diet is a more effective remedy for diabetes than eating less calories, concluded the researcher.
He also reports that the consumption of fish oil had no positive effects on reduced insulin sensitivity in the mice, and notes that a diet with fish oil "cannot prevent or remedy diabetes in the case of somebody who is already less sensitive to insulin due to a high-fat diet".
Clinically obese people sometimes suffer from a certain form of diabetes, type II diabetes mellitus, because more fatty acids are released from the adipose tissue during obesity. These fatty acids can reduce the functioning of the beta cells in the pancreas as well as the sensitivity of various tissues to insulin.
Fat accumulation in adipose tissue is less harmful than fat accumulation in organs such as the liver and muscles and treatment methods that lead to a reduction of fat accumulation in these organs coul also remedy type II diabetes mellitus in obese patients, conclude the scientists.
Numbers of diabetics across the globe are rapidly rising, intimately linked to the growing incidence of obesity. Diabetes is the fourth main cause of death in most developed countries and the leading cause of blindness and visual impairment in adults in these countries, according to the International Diabetes Federation. Incidence of the disease increased by one-third during the 1990s, due to the prevalence of obesity and an ageing population.