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Soybean Oil Causes More Obesity and Diabetes Than Fructose

Soybean oil could contribute more to the development of diabetes and obesity than sugar….

Consumption of soybean oil, which is high in polyunsaturated fatty acids, has increased greatly within recent years as studies have shown that saturated fatty acids are associated with the risk of cardiovascular disease. Nutritional guidelines were created due to the results of these studies to encourage people to reduce their intake of saturated fats, commonly found in meat and dairy products, and to increase their intake of polyunsaturated fatty acids found in plant oils, such as soybean oil, a main ingredient in vegetable oil.

Researchers from the University of California Riverside conducted a study with male mice to examine the effect of both soybean oil and fructose on the development of obesity and its associated co-morbidities. The mice were fed a series of four diets containing 40% fat, similar to what Americans consume today. One of the diets included coconut oil, which contains mostly saturated fat, and another diet included soybean oil, which contains mostly polyunsaturated fat. The other two diets included fructose, commonly found in soda and processed food.

Mice on the high soybean oil diet had greater signs of metabolic syndrome such as increased weight gain, larger fat deposits, fatty liver with signs of injury, diabetes, and insulin resistance when compared to the mice on the high coconut oil diet. The mice on the fructose diet had less severe metabolic effects than the mice on the soybean oil diet. Mice on the soybean oil diet gained almost 25% more weight than the mice on the coconut oil diet and 9% more weight than the mice on the fructose diet.

The results from this study indicate that soybean oil causes more obesity and diabetes than a diet high in fructose. However, the study did not look at the impact of diet on cardiovascular disease. The researchers noted in their study that consumption of vegetable oil could be beneficial for cardiovascular health, even if it also induces obesity and diabetes.

Practice Pearls:

  • Consumption of soybean oil, which is high in polyunsaturated fatty acids, has increased greatly within recent years as studies have shown that saturated fatty acids are associated with the risk of cardiovascular disease.
  • Mice on the high soybean oil diet had greater signs of metabolic syndrome such as increased weight gain, larger fat deposits, fatty liver with signs of injury, diabetes, and insulin resistance when compared to the mice on the high coconut oil diet. The mice on the fructose diet had less severe metabolic effects than the mice on the soybean oil diet.
  • The results from this study indicate that soybean oil causes more obesity and diabetes than a diet high in fructose. However, consumption of vegetable oil could be beneficial for cardiovascular health, even if it also induces obesity and diabetes.

Deol P, Evans JR, Dhahbi J, et al. “Soybean Oil Is More Obesogenic and Diabetogenic than Coconut Oil and Fructose in Mouse: Potential Role for the Liver.” PLoS ONE. 2015;10(7).