Dietary Fat and Risk for Type 2 Diabetes: a Review of Recent Research

Curr Nutr Rep. 2018 Dec;7(4):214-226. doi: 10.1007/s13668-018-0244-z.


Purpose of review: It is estimated that over 400 million people worldwide are living with diabetes. Excess adiposity is the strongest risk factor for non-insulin-dependent diabetes, type 2. Lifestyle interventions have demonstrated that diet plays a critical role in preventing the onset of type 2 diabetes. Dietary fat is not only a source of energy and nutrients, but also bioactive fatty acids. The purpose of this review was to examine data from recent prospective cohort studies and dietary interventions to determine if there are benefits to fat consumption on diabetes risk.

Recent findings: The consumption of fish and marine n-3 fatty acids among Asian populations and regular-fat dairy foods and trans-palmitoleic acid (trans-16, n-7) among Western populations may be associated with reduced risk for type 2 diabetes. Whereas some dietary fat may contribute to reduced diabetes risk, lifestyle recommendations to balance calories with physical activity are prudent at this time.

Keywords: Diabetes; Dietary fat; Fat; Fatty acids; Monounsaturated fat; Polyunsaturated fat; Saturated fat; Trans-fat; Type 2 diabetes.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / diagnosis
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / epidemiology
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / prevention & control*
  • Dietary Fats / administration & dosage*
  • Dietary Fats / adverse effects
  • Energy Intake
  • Exercise
  • Female
  • Healthy Lifestyle*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nutritive Value
  • Protective Factors
  • Recommended Dietary Allowances
  • Risk Factors
  • Risk Reduction Behavior
  • Young Adult


  • Dietary Fats