Are you choosing the right diets to make your mice fat?

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By Sridhar Radhakrishnan, Ph.D.

Diets high in fat have been linked to a host of diseases, including obesity, metabolic and inflammatory diseases. High-fat diets have been used to induce obesity in rodents and to study development of glucose intolerance and insulin resistance, characteristics of type 2 diabetes (T2D). A recently published review article summarizes multiple studies in this area and has revealed some startling observations. Although diet-induced obese (DIO) models have been used for over 20 years, these scientists observed that there were many inconsistent results in the literature. This was mainly because studies were plagued by variability in the choice of high-fat diets and the choice of improper control diets. Most studies do not even report diet information in their manuscripts making reproducibility of work difficult. Although other factors play an important role in metabolic response of a DIO model, the diets, both experimental and the control, is one of the easiest variables that can be controlled. The review by Rendina-Ruedy in BoneKEy Reports, 5, 845 (2016) succinctly summarizes these aspects and provides guidelines on designing studies using DIO models for type 2 diabetes.