top of page
  • Real Pork Trust Consortium

How Exploring Pigs’ Nutrition Can Inform Us About Human Nutrition and Health

Pigs' eating feed with optimized diets to help prevent obesity
Courtesy of the National Pork Board, Des Moines, Iowa

Under the guidance of Dr. Pedro Urriola, Assistant Professor of Animal Science at the University of Minnesota, Megan L. Meyer, Communication Assistant and Agricultural Communications student, summarized a peer-reviewed article written by Theo A. T. G. van Kempen and Ruurd T. Zijlstra. The research findings discuss how understanding pigs' diets may help prevent obesity in humans.

Major Finding

Pigs have a natural way of lowering their calorie intake by sensing insulin resistance in their bodies and limiting the amount of food that they consume. The realization of this phenomenon has helped swine farmers provide diets and feeding management that allow pigs to use this natural ability to lower their calories has helped with obesity and the overall health of pigs. Because pigs’ anatomy is very similar to that of humans, by studying pigs’ diets, humans may learn new ways to fight obesity. Therefore, human nutritionists can collaborate with experts in the swine industry to effectively shape the human diet. Authors suggest that pigs are unlikely to suffer from nutrient deficiencies because their physiological awareness is much stronger than a humans and effective coverage of diet micronutrient supply. This is what separates man and pig and truly limits humans from meeting obesity-limiting goals they may have set. Different diets were examined, and different nutrients were examined and broken down to try and resolve obesity issues (including excessive calorie intake) that are present in the human diet.  


Why It Matters

Using the data from studies can help people understand how to limit their calories and how to intuitively use their body’s cues, much like pigs do. Examining all parts of a pig’s diet and structuring the human diet like a pig’s may help to ensure humans only consume essential foods like necessary micronutrients and can, therefore, help limit obesity. Like swine nutritionists, human nutritionists can use data and information to shape human rations. Because pigs closely compare to humans physiologically, it is important to utilize them when solving problems like obesity and structuring human nutrition goals.


How the Research Was Conducted

Researchers studied different aspects of pigs’ diets and how they used specific nutrients and compared it to that of human diets, attempting to find a relationship. For example, they studied the meals per day and feed intake of a pig and analyzed the muscle or fat gained from those different times of day. They also studied the glycemic response of pigs to measure their insulin resistance and compared it to the same response in humans.


Learn More

To learn more about how understanding pigs' diets can help us improve human diets and potentially prevent obesity, read the full peer-reviewed journal article.

How Exploring Pigs’ Nutrition Can Inform Us About Human Nutrition and Health
Download PDF • 209KB


bottom of page