High dietary choline and betaine intake is associated with low insulin resistance in the Newfoundland population

Nutrition. 2017 Jan:33:28-34. doi: 10.1016/j.nut.2016.08.005. Epub 2016 Sep 7.


Objective: Dietary betaine supplement could ameliorate insulin resistance (IR) in animals, but no data are available for choline. Reports on humans are rare. The aim of this study was to investigate the association between dietary choline and betaine intake and IR in humans.

Methods: We assessed 2394 adults from the CODING (Complex Diseases in the Newfoundland population: Environment and Genetics) study. Intake of dietary choline and betaine was evaluated from the Willett Food Frequency Questionnaire. IR was estimated by homeostatic model assessment (HOMA-IR) and the quantitative insulin-sensitivity check index (QUICKI). Partial correlation analysis was used to determine the correlations of dietary choline and betaine intake with IR adjusted for major confounding factors.

Results: Dietary choline and betaine intake was inversely correlated with levels of fasting glucose and insulin, HOMA-IR, HOMA-β (r = -0.08 to -0.27 for choline and r = -0.06 to -0.16 for betaine; P < 0.05) and positively related to QUICKI (r = 0.16-0.25 for choline and r = 0.11-0.16 for betaine; P < 0.01) in both sexes after controlling for age, total calorie intake, and physical activity level. The significant associations disappeared in men after percent trunk fat was added as a confounding factor. Furthermore, individuals with the highest tertile of dietary choline and betaine intake had the lowest IR severity. Dietary choline and betaine intake, however, was the lowest in the high IR group, intermediate in the medium group, and the highest in the low IR group.

Conclusion: This study demonstrated that higher intake of dietary choline and betaine is associated with lower IR in the general population.

Keywords: Association; Betaine; Choline; Dietary intake; Insulin resistance.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Betaine / pharmacology*
  • Blood Glucose / metabolism*
  • Choline / pharmacology*
  • Diet Surveys
  • Diet*
  • Fasting
  • Feeding Behavior
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Insulin / blood*
  • Insulin Resistance*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Newfoundland and Labrador
  • Surveys and Questionnaires


  • Blood Glucose
  • Insulin
  • Betaine
  • Choline