Obesity does not modulate the glycometabolic benefit of insoluble cereal fibre in subjects with prediabetes—a stratified post hoc analysis of the Optimal Fibre Trial (OptiFiT). Background: OptiFiT demonstrated the beneficial effect of insoluble oat fibres on dysglycemia in prediabetes. Recent analyses of OptiFiT and other randomised controlled trials (RCTs) indicated that this effect might be specific for the subgroup of patients with impaired fasting glucose (IFG). As subjects with IFG are more often obese, there is a need to clarify if the effect modulation is actually driven by glycemic state or body mass index (BMI). Aim: We conducted a stratified post hoc analysis of OptiFiT based on the presence or absence of obesity. Methods: 180 Caucasian participants with impaired glucose tolerance (IGT) were randomised in a double-blinded fashion to either twice-a-day fibre or placebo supplementation for 2 years (n
= 89 and 91, respectively). Once a year, they underwent fasting blood sampling, an oral glucose tolerance test (oGTT) and full anthropometry. At baseline, out of 136 subjects who completed the first year of intervention, 87 (62%) were classified as OBESE (BMI >30) and 49 subjects were NONOBESE. We performed a stratified per-protocol analysis of the primary glycemic and secondary metabolic effects attributable to dietary fibre supplementation after 1 year of intervention. Results: Neither the NONOBESE nor the OBESE subgroup showed significant differences between the respective fibre and placebo groups in metabolic, anthropometric or inflammatory outcomes. None of the four subgroups showed a significant improvement in either fasting glucose or glycated haemoglobin (HbA1c) after 1 year of intervention and only OBESE fibre subjects improved 2 h glucose. Within the NONOBESE stratum, there were no significant differences in the change of primary or secondary metabolic parameters between the fibre and placebo arms. We found a significant interaction effect for leukocyte count (time × supplement × obesity status). Within the OBESE stratum, leukocyte count and gamma-glutamyl transferase (GGT) levels decreased more in the fibre group compared with placebo (adjusted for change in body weight). Comparison of both fibre groups revealed that OBESE subjects had a significantly stronger benefit with respect to leukocyte count and fasting C-peptide levels than NONOBESE participants. Only the effect on leukocyte count survived correction for multiple comparisons. In contrast, under placebo conditions, NONOBESE subjects managed to decrease their body fat content significantly more than OBESE ones. Intention-to-treat (ITT) analysis resulted in similar outcomes. Conclusions: The state of obesity does not relevantly modulate the beneficial effect of cereal fibre on major glycometabolic parameters by fibre supplementation, but leukocyte levels may be affected. Hence, BMI is not a suitable parameter to stratify this cohort with respect to diabetes risk or responsiveness to cereal fibre, but obesity needs to be accounted for when assessing anti-inflammatory effects of fibre treatments. Targeted diabetes prevention should focus on the actual metabolic state rather than on mere obesity.
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