What you eat and not just the number of calories is a significant factor in diabetes risk, a new study suggests.
The study found that the postprandial (after eating a meal) levels of circulating metabolites in the blood of identical twins tends to be similar after a fast food meal, independent of weight difference.
Researchers compared genetically identical twins - one heavier and one leaner - and found that after eating a fast-food meal, the circulating metabolites, including those related to Type 2 diabetes, were found in both individuals at the same levels.
These findings suggest that the onset of this type of diabetes is largely influenced by genetic factors and/or the composition of gut microbiota.
"Our study contributes to better understanding of the genetic and environmental factors influencing several risk factors which are associated with obesity and metabolic disease (eg Type 2 diabetes)," said Matej Oresic, study author from the Steno Diabetes Centre in Gentofte, Denmark.
"As such, our study may contribute to the efforts aimed at prevention and treatment of metabolic complications associated with obesity," said Oresic.
Scientists studied identical twin pairs, where the twins differed in weight. They were healthy young adults from a national (Finnish) study of twins. The twins ate a fast food meal, and then gave many blood samples over several hours.
A broad panel of small molecules (ie, metabolites) was measured in blood, including amino acids, fatty acids and bile acids.
The diversity of fecal microbiota also was assessed at the baseline. Results showed that twin-pair similarity is a dominant factor in the metabolic postprandial response, independent of obesity.
Branched chain amino acids, known risk factors of diabetes, were increased in heavier as compared to leaner co-twins in the fasting state, but their levels converged postprandially.
The research was published in The FASEB Journal.