Effect of Fish Oil on Insulin Sensitivity in Children: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomized, Controlled Trials

Can J Diabetes. 2021 Aug;45(6):531-538.e1. doi: 10.1016/j.jcjd.2020.11.004. Epub 2020 Nov 21.


Objectives: Fish oil has been shown to reduce the risk of metabolic disorders. However, the effects of fish oil intervention on glucose metabolism and insulin sensitivity are still controversial, especially in children. The current meta-analysis aimed to evaluate the effects of fish oil intervention on insulin sensitivity in children.

Methods: The Cochrane Library, PubMed, Embase, Web of Science, ClinicalTrials.gov and China National Knowledge Infrastructure databases were searched up to August 2020 for relevant studies evaluating fish oil intake compared with placebo on insulin sensitivity indications (Homeostatic Model for Insulin Resistance). A fixed-effects model was used to calculate the pooled effect.

Results: A total of 13 studies with 1,132 participants (567 in placebo group and 565 in fish oil group) were included in the meta-analysis. Compared with the placebo group, fish oil intervention had beneficial effects on insulin sensitivity in the pooled analysis (weighted mean difference, -0.219; 95% confidence interval, -0.392 to -0.046; p=0.013). In subgroup analyses, when the fish oil intervention period was short-term (≤6 months), low dose (eicosapentaenoic acid + docosahexaenoic acid dose <1.5 g/day) and high ratio (eicosapentaenoic acid to docosahexaenoic acid ≥1), it could improve insulin sensitivity. No heterogeneity was found for the pooled and subgroup analyses.

Conclusion: Fish oil intervention has a beneficial effect on insulin sensitivity in children.

Keywords: children; controlled trials; enfants; essais comparatifs à répartition aléatoire; fish oil; huile de poisson; insulin sensitivity; meta-analysis; méta-analyse; randomized; sensibilité à l’insuline.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Fish Oils / therapeutic use*
  • Humans
  • Insulin Resistance / physiology*
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Fish Oils