Background Lifestyle influences endocrine, metabolic and cardiovascular homeostasis. This study investigated the impact of diet and oral anti-diabetic medication on cardio-metabolic health in human-sized diabetic pigs. Methods After a growing pre-phase from ~30 to ~69 kg during which domestic pigs were fed either a low fat, low sucrose diet (group A) or a fast food-type diet elevated in lard (15%) and sucrose (40%) (group B), the pigs were subdivided in 5 groups (n = 7–8 pigs per group). Group 1, normal pigs from group A on a low fat, low sugar (L) pig diet and group 2, normal pigs from group B on a high lard (25%), sucrose-fructose (40%), cholesterol (1%) fast food-type (F) diet. Diabetes (D) was induced in group B pigs by streptozotocin and group 3 received the F diet (DF), group 4 received the F diet with Anti-diabetic medication metformin (2 g.day-1)pioglitazone (40 mg.day-1) (DFA) and group 5 switched to a Plant-Fish oil (25%), Slowly digestible starch (40%) diet (DPFS). The F and PFS diets were identical for fat, carbohydrate and protein content but only differed in fat and carbohydrate composition. The 5 pig groups were followed up for 7 weeks until reaching ~120 kg. Results In normal pigs, the F diet predisposed to several abnormalities related to metabolic syndrome. Diabetes amplified the inflammatory and cardiometabolic abnormalities of the F diet, but both oral FA medication and the PFS diet partially corrected these abnormalities (mean ±SEM) as follows: Fasting plasma TNF-α (pg.ml-1) and NEFA (mmol.l-1) concentrations were high (p<0.02) in DF (193±55 and 0.79±0.16), intermediate in DFA (136±40 and 0.57 ±012) and low in DPFS pigs (107±31 and 0.48±0.19). Meal intolerance (response over fasting) for glucose and triglycerides (area under the curve, mmol.h-1) and for lactate (3-h postprandial, mmol.l-1) was high (p<0.03) in DF (489±131, 8.6±4.8 and 2.2±0.6), intermediate in DFA (276±145, 1.4±1.1 and 1.6±0.4) and low in DPFS (184±62, 0.7±1.8 and 0.1±0.1). Insulin-mediated glucose disposal (mg.kg-1.min-1) showed a numerical trend (p = NS): low in DF (6.9±2.2), intermediate in DFA (8.2±1.3) and high in DPFS pigs (10.4±2.7). Liver weight (g. kg-1 body weight) and liver triglyceride concentration (g.kg-1 liver) were high (p<0.001) in DF (23.8±2.0 and 69±14), intermediate in DFA (21.1±2.0 and 49±15) and low in DPFS pigs (16.4±0.7 and 13±2.0). Aorta fatty streaks were high (p<0.01) in DF (16.4±5.7%), intermediate in DFA (7.4±4.5%) and low in DPFS pigs (0.05±0.02%). Conclusion This translational study using pigs with induced type 2 diabetes provides evidence that a change in nutritional life style from fast food to a plant-fish oil, slowly digestible starch diet can be more effective than sole anti-diabetic medication.