Fatty Diets Linked to Diabetes, Say Researchers

Scientists and researchers have long suspected that the development of Type II diabetes is related to high fat intake in the diet.  Overweight individuals, who are at most risk of becoming diabetic in later life, may well have become overweight through eating a fatty diet and a large amount of fat in the diet is also associated with many other diseases.  High fat levels in the diet may also be associated with poor nutrition generally, as in the case of poorly educated people who know little about healthy eating.  Because of poor nutritional awareness, lower income levels, and shortage of time, these people may eat a lot of processed foods and junk foods, as take out food or TV dinners.

Now researchers have identified a cause of the disease that is activated in the beta cells, cells which make up around 80% of the islets of Langerhans in the pancreas.  The disease pathway then leads to metabolic defects in the liver, and in muscle and fat tissue and other organs.  These metabolic issues make up the disease of diabetes.

Type II diabetes typically affects middle-aged to elderly people and especially those with long-term weight problems.  It occurs when the pancreas produces insufficient insulin, or the body’s cells cease to respond to this hormone as they should.  The function of insulin is to stimulate the tissues to take up glucose from the blood and store them, so they are prepared for any activity needing energy.  Failure of this process leads to high levels of glucose in the blood, which over time damages organs.

Symptoms include increased thirst and need to urinate, as the body tries to wash away the blood sugar.  Patients may also suffer unexplained weight loss, fatigue, a distinctive odor on the breath, numbness and tingling in the hands and feet, increased hunger and a less efficient healing of cuts and sores.


Eventually the disease, if untreated, may lead to serious medical problems, including heart disease, kidney failure, and circulatory failure leading to gangrene.

The beta cells in the pancreas react in a healthy person to high blood sugar after eating by releasing insulin into the blood to ensure the glucose is stored in the cells.  It has long been known that the beta cells decline in function over time.

In a new study carried out on mice and humans, high fat levels were found to interfere with the functioning of FOXA2 and HNF1A, two proteins needed for the production of the enzyme GnT-4a.  This enzyme plays a vital part in the process involved in cells drawing glucose from the bloodstream and storing it.  Researchers at theUniversityofCalifornia,Santa Barbara, found that when the mice were fed a high fat diet their pancreatic beta cells were found to be unresponsive to high blood sugar.

More than 24 million people of all ages in theUShave diabetes, with Type II diabetes accounting for 90-95% of these.  Professor Jamey Marth, professor of nanomedicine, molecular biology and biochemistry at the university, said the study has suggested new routes for research into treatment for the disease.

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