Scientists are hoping to find new compounds in foods that can help reduce risk of insulin resistance, a disorder which often leads to type 2 diabetes.
About 16 million Americans are insulin-resistant, meaning that they cannot properly use insulin to get energy-rich glucose from their blood into their cells.
To pinpoint food compounds that could help forestall this kind of diabetes, scientists from the US Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Research Service (ARS) have developed insulin-resistant laboratory hamsters. The scientists report that insulin resistance occurred in the lab animals after only a few weeks of being fed a high-fat diet. According to the researchers, the diet was similar - in proportion - to the amount of fat that most Americans eat every day.
Scientists at the ARS Western Regional Research Center in California are currently investigating which food components could protect the animals from becoming insulin-resistant.
The ARS researchers claim that they are the first to develop this condition in hamsters and rats - simply by increasing the amount of fat that the animals ate.
Direct and indirect costs of diabetes to the US are estimated to be at least $98 billion annually, according to the ARS.