Relationship of dietary fat and serum cholesterol ester and phospholipid fatty acids to markers of insulin resistance in men and women with a range of glucose tolerance

Metabolism. 2001 Jan;50(1):86-92. doi: 10.1053/meta.2001.19440.


High-fat diets are associated with insulin resistance, however, this effect may vary depending on the type of fat consumed. The purpose of this study was to determine the relationship between intakes of specific dietary fatty acids (assessed by 3-day diet records and fatty acid composition of serum cholesterol esters [CEs] and phospholipids [PLs]) and glucose and insulin concentrations during an oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT). Nineteen men and 19 women completed the study. Nine subjects had type 2 diabetes or impaired glucose tolerance. Fasting insulin correlated with reported intakes of total fat (r = .50, P < .01), monounsaturated fat (r = .44, P < .01), and saturated fat (r = .49, P < .01), but not with trans fatty acid intake (r = .11, not significant [NS]). Fasting glucose also correlated with total (r = .39, P < .05) and monounsaturated fat intakes (r = .37, P < .05). In multivariate analysis, both total and saturated fat intake were strong single predictors of fasting insulin (R2 approximately .25), and a model combining dietary and anthropometric measures accounted for 47% of the variance in fasting insulin. Significant relationships were observed between fasting insulin and the serum CE enrichments of myristic (C14:0), palmitoleic (C16:1), and dihomo-gamma-linolenic (C20:3n-6) acids. In multivariate analysis, a model containing CE 14:0 and percent body fat explained 45% of the variance in fasting insulin, and C14:0 and age explained 30% of the variance in fasting glucose. PL C20:3n-6 explained 30% of the variance in fasting insulin, and a model including PL C18:1n-11 cis, C20:3n-6, age and body fat had an R2 of .58. In conclusion, self-reported intake of saturated and monounsaturated fats, but not trans fatty acids, are associated with markers of insulin resistance. Furthermore, enhancement of dihomo-gamma-linolenic and myristic acids in serum CE and PL, presumably markers for dietary intake, predicted insulin resistance.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Biomarkers / blood
  • Blood Glucose / analysis
  • Blood Glucose / drug effects
  • Cholesterol Esters / blood*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / blood
  • Dietary Fats / pharmacology*
  • Female
  • Glucose Tolerance Test
  • Humans
  • Insulin Resistance / physiology*
  • Male
  • Phospholipids / blood*
  • Regression Analysis


  • Biomarkers
  • Blood Glucose
  • Cholesterol Esters
  • Dietary Fats
  • Phospholipids