Intended for healthcare professionals

Research Article

Nutrient intake, adiposity, and diabetes.

Br Med J 1979; 1 doi: (Published 10 March 1979) Cite this as: Br Med J 1979;1:655
  1. H Keen,
  2. B J Thomas,
  3. R J Jarrett,
  4. J H Fuller


    To study the role of nutritional factors in the genesis of diabetes, estimations of blood sugar concentration, food intake, and adiposity (as body mass index; BMI) were carried out on three normal population samples--namely, 961 employees of Beecham Ltd, 1005 employees of the Greater London Council, and 1488 middle-aged male civil servants (Whitehall study). Blood sugar concentrations and indices of glucose tolerance correlated positively with the degree of adiposity but tended to be negatively correlated with total food energy intake and its component nutrients (total carbohydrate, sucrose, and fat). This inverse trend was largely accounted for by highly significant inverse correlations between food energy intake and adiposity, a relation found in both sexes and in all three population samples and which extended across the whole range of nutrient intake and BMI. These findings suggest that greater degrees of adiposity are associated with lower than average food energy intakes and hence lower total energy expenditures. The association of increased adiposity with low food energy consumption may indicate an underlying "low energy throughput" state, and it may be the mechanisms of this, as well as the obesity, that are responsible for disease.