High-fat diets: modeling the metabolic disorders of human obesity in rodents

Obesity (Silver Spring). 2007 Apr;15(4):798-808. doi: 10.1038/oby.2007.608.


Research methods and procedures: High-fat (HF) diet feeding can induce obesity and metabolic disorders in rodents that resemble the human metabolic syndrome. However, this dietary intervention is not standardized, and the HF-induced phenotype varies distinctly among different studies. The question which HF diet type is best to model the metabolic deterioration seen in human obesity remains unclear. Therefore, in this review, metabolic data obtained with different HF diet approaches are compiled. Both whole-body and organ-specific diet effects are analyzed.

Results: On the basis of these results, we conclude that animal fats and omega-6/omega-9-containing plant oils can be used to generate an obese and insulin-resistant phenotype in rodents, whereas fish oil-fed animals do not develop these disorders.

Discussion: Looking at the present data, it does not seem possible to define an ideal HF diet, and an exact definition of diet composition and a thorough metabolic characterization of the HF diet effects in a researcher's specific laboratory setting remains essential for metabolic studies with this model.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animal Feed
  • Animals
  • Blood Glucose / metabolism
  • Dietary Fats / metabolism*
  • Disease Models, Animal*
  • Energy Intake
  • Humans
  • Insulin / metabolism
  • Insulin-Secreting Cells / metabolism
  • Liver / metabolism
  • Metabolic Diseases / diagnosis
  • Metabolic Diseases / genetics*
  • Obesity / metabolism*
  • Obesity / pathology*
  • Phenotype
  • Rats
  • Species Specificity


  • Blood Glucose
  • Dietary Fats
  • Insulin