Intake of dietary saturated fatty acids and risk of type 2 diabetes in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition-Netherlands cohort: associations by types, sources of fatty acids and substitution by macronutrients.Eur J Nutr 2019; 58(3):1125-1136EJ
The association between dietary saturated fatty acids (SFA) intake and type 2 diabetes (T2D) remains unclear. This study aimed at investigating the association between SFA intake and T2D risk based on (1) individual SFA (differing in carbon chain length), (2) food sources of SFA and (3) the substituting macronutrients.
37,421 participants from the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition-Netherlands (EPIC-NL) cohort were included in this study. Baseline dietary intake was assessed by a validated food frequency questionnaire. T2D risks were estimated by Cox regression models adjusted for non-dietary and dietary covariates.
893 incident T2D cases were documented during 10.1-year follow-up. We observed no association between total SFA and T2D risk. Marginally inverse associations were found for lauric acid (HR per 1 SD of energy%, 95% CI 0.92, 0.85-0.99), myristic acid (0.89, 0.79-0.99), margaric acid (0.84, 0.73-0.97), odd-chain SFA (pentadecylic plus margaric acids; 0.88, 0.79-0.99), and cheese derived SFA (0.90, 0.83-0.98). Soft and liquid fats derived SFA was found related to higher T2D risk (1.08, 1.01-1.17). When substituting SFA by proteins, carbohydrates and polyunsaturated fatty acids, significantly higher risks of T2D were observed (HRs per 1 energy% ranging from 1.05 to 1.15).
In this Dutch population, total SFA does not relate to T2D risk. Rather, the association may depend on the types and food sources of SFA. Cheese-derived SFA and individual SFA that are commonly found in cheese, were significantly related to lower T2D risks. We cannot exclude the higher T2D risks found for soft and liquid fats derived SFA and for substituting SFA with other macronutrients are influenced by residual confounding by trans fatty acids or limited intake variation in polyunsaturated fatty acids and vegetable protein.