Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) may improve insulin resistance in the body, thereby reducing the effects of type 2 diabetes. A research study analyzes the differing results of this correlation in men and women, suggesting the association of a sex-dependent factor.


With the global rise in obesity, studies continue to dedicate research towards improving obesity-related conditions. It has been suggested that omega-3 PUFAs (normally found in fish like tuna and salmon, or in peanut butter) reduce insulin resistance in the body, leading to prevention and delay in the onset of type 2 diabetes. Previous research has shown differing trends in the results produced by the fatty acids. While in women, the consumption of omega-3 PUFAs has inversely correlated with type 2 diabetes, the same is not evident for men. To test this hypothesis, a new study published by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition assesses the effect of omega-3 PUFAs on insulin resistance, with respect to sex dependency.


The study involved the use of five databases to gather information from previous studies. An assessment of bias was conducted on all of the studies, testing relevance and scientific validity. Data collected from these studies was subject to statistical analysis. The team narrowed down to seven studies conducted in women, four studies conducted in men, and 20 studies consisted of both men and women.

Results presented a significant increase in insulin resistance for women in trials of equal to or greater than six weeks. No such trend was identifiable in males. Overall, no general effect of omega-3 PUFAs on insulin resistance was evident among the groups. The study offers that uncontrolled variables such as inconsistencies in sample sizes and population ages may account for the differing results found between males and females. Considering all aspects, the researchers deduced a preliminary conclusion that omega-3 PUFAs may function in a sex-dependent manner while acknowledging that further research needs to be conducted in order to affirm or deny the observed trends.

The review compiles previous research conducted on the use of omega-3 PUFAs with respect to type 2 diabetes prevention in women and men. Although the study does not entirely confirm that the fatty acids have a greater effect in women than men, an analysis of trends in the collected data support this hypothesis. The study opens up a panel for further discussion and research in order to come to an accurate conclusion, and apply the information towards the purpose of improved global health and nutrition.


Written By: Shrishti Ahuja, BSc

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