Heavy snacking may be a higher risk factor for pre-diabetes than high-fat diet

While a high-fat diet has been shown to increase a person's risk of developing pre-diabetes and type 2 diabetes, the specific types of food that make up this type of eating regimen may play a larger role in these diseases than previously thought.

According to a recent study published in the journal Obesity, laboratory rodents that were fed typical American snacks were more likely to develop pre-diabetes than those that consumed a lard-based diet.

The researchers referred to the overabundance of snacks as a "cafeteria style" diet. They said that their findings are worrisome since many Americans consume high amounts of these snacks because they are considered tasty.

The study's results showed that rats on the cafeteria style diet gained more weight, had more tissue inflammation and were more intolerant to glucose and insulin, compared to those that consumed lard.

One notable finding was that laboratory rodents that ate lard consumed 300 calories less per day than those on the other diet, on average. This may indicate that individuals who tend to snack a lot may frequently overeat because they enjoy the taste of the high-fat foods.

“Although we can’t pinpoint what component of these snacks is causing these pre-diabetes conditions, we show that the cafeteria diet provides a more severe animal model of metabolic syndrome than lard-based high-fat diets," said lead researcher Liza Makowski, PhD.

People who have been diagnosed with pre-diabetes may benefit from adhering to a diabetic diet in order to delay or potentially prevent the onset of type 2 diabetes. Although their blood sugar levels are not high enough to be considered diabetic, it may only be a matter of time before this barrier is crossed.

The National Institutes of Health explains that a diabetic diet should limit an individual's intake of sugar, carbohydrates, fat, salt and alcohol, and should include a variety of whole grains, fruits and vegetables.