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expert reaction to study looking at different types of polyunsaturated fatty acid and type 2 diabetes risk

The relationship between polyunsaturated fatty acids and risk of type 2 diabetes is explored in a paper published in the journal PLOS Medicine which reports differences in risk levels between specific fatty acids.


Dr Ian Johnson, Nutrition researcher and Emeritus Fellow, Institute of Food Research (IFR), said:

“This is an interesting and important study, both because of its size and because of the use of objective measurements of blood-borne fatty acids known to depend to a large extent on eating habits, rather than relying on data from dietary questionnaires.

“The results reveal complex relationships between circulating fatty acids and risk of Type 2 diabetes. One aspect of the work, the evidence that higher levels of linoleic acid in the circulation are associated with a reduced risk of diabetes, seems consistent with dietary guidelines recommending use of cooking fats and other products based on vegetable oils in preference to saturated fats of animal origin.

“However, as the authors themselves point out, although their results may have implications for the future development of dietary advice, the immediate value of the study lies in the avenues it opens for future research on the relationship between lipid metabolism and diabetes.”


‘Association of plasma phospholipid n-3 and n-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids with type 2 diabetes: The EPIC-InterAct case-cohort study’ by Nita G. Forouhi et al. published in PLOS Medicine on Tuesday 19 July 2016. 


Declared interests

Dr Ian Johnson: “No conflicts to declare.”

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