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Nutr Diabetes. 2014 Feb 3;4:e104. doi: 10.1038/nutd.2014.2.

High saturated-fat and low-fibre intake: a comparative analysis of nutrient intake in individuals with and without type 2 diabetes.

Author information

  • 1Diabetes and Endocrine Units, St Columcille's and St Vincent's University Hospitals, Dublin, UK.
  • 2Institute of Food and Health, University College Dublin, Dublin, UK.



The aim of dietary modification, as a cornerstone of type 2 diabetes (T2DM) management, is to optimise metabolic control and overall health. This study describes food and nutrient intake in a sample of adults with T2DM, and compares this to recommendations, and to intake in age, sex, body mass index (BMI) and social-class matched adults without T2DM.


A cross-sectional analysis of food and nutrient intake in 124 T2DM individuals (64% male; age 57.4±5.6 years, BMI 32.5±5.8 kg m(-2)) and 124 adults (age 57.4±7.0 years, BMI 31.2±5.0 kg m(-2)) with no diabetes (ND) was undertaken using a 4-day semiweighed food diary. Biochemical and anthropometric variables were also measured.


While reported energy intake was similar in T2DM vs ND (1954 vs 2004 kcal per day, P=0.99), T2DM subjects consumed more total-fat (38.8% vs 35%, P0.001), monounsaturated-fat (13.3% vs 12.2%; P=0.004), polyunsaturated-fat (6.7% vs 5.9%; P<0.001) and protein (18.6% vs 17.5%, P0.01). Both groups exceeded saturated-fat recommendations (14.0% vs 13.8%). T2DM intakes of carbohydrate (39.5% vs 42.9%), non-milk sugar (10.4% vs 15.0%) and fibre (14.4 vs 18.9 g) were significantly lower (P<0.001). Dietary glycaemic load (GL) was also lower in T2DM (120.8 vs 129.2; P=0.02), despite a similar glycaemic index (59.7 vs 60.1; P=0.48). T2DM individuals reported consuming significantly more wholemeal/brown/wholegrain breads, eggs, oils, vegetables, meat/meat products, savoury snacks and soups/sauces and less white breads, breakfast cereals, cakes/buns, full-fat dairy, chocolate, fruit juices, oily fish and alcohol than ND controls.


Adults with T2DM made different food choices to ND adults. This resulted in a high saturated-fat diet, with a higher total-fat, monounsaturated-fat, polyunsaturated-fat and protein content and a lower GL, carbohydrate, fibre and non-milk sugar content. Dietary education should emphasise and reinforce the importance of higher fibre, fruit, vegetable and wholegrain intake and the substitution of monounsaturated for saturated-fat sources, in energy balanced conditions.

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