- Dietary issues are responsible for most new cases of type 2 diabetes worldwide, study finds.
- Its authors found that a lack of whole grains and excessive consumption of refined grains, wheat and processed meats were the main drivers of diet-related type 2 diabetes.
- The regions of the world where diet was most responsible for the disease were central and eastern Europe and central Asia.
In 2018, 70.3% of the 14.1 million new diagnoses of type 2 diabetes (T2D) worldwide were attributable to 11 dietary factors, according to a new study.
Three dietary factors, in particular, have stood out as major drivers of new cases of type 2 diabetes worldwide: insufficient amounts of whole grains and overconsumption of refined grains, wheat and processed meats.
Among all new cases caused by nutrition problems, a deficiency of whole grains accounted for 26.1%, too much refined grains and wheat 24.6%, and consumption of processed meat 20.3%.
Overall, the poor quality of carbohydrates appears to be the main factor in the development of type 2 diabetes.
Global data from 2017 revealed that around 462 million people worldwide have type 2 diabetes.
Type 2 diabetes is a disease in which the body becomes unable to regulate blood sugar levels due to an inability to use the insulin it produces. Without management,
Overall, the study determined that diet was a bigger factor in type 2 diabetes in men.
Researchers from the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University in Medford, MA, conducted the study. The findings appear in
“The scientific evidence linking refined grain consumption to type 2 diabetes is clear,” said the study’s first author, Dr. Meghan O’Hearn, Ph.D. of Tufts.
“Refined grains, starches, and sugars induce rapid spikes in blood sugar, the conversion of sugar to fat in the liver accumulating around the abdominal organs, and can also replace other healthier foods (like whole grains) in people’s diets, which leads to an increased risk of type 2 diabetes,” explained Dr. O’Hearn.
Dr. Vasanti Malik, Sc.D., of the University of Toronto, said, “Whole grains… tend to have a lower glycemic index (potential to raise blood sugar) than refined grains because they are digested and absorbed more slowly due to fiber, which is beneficial. for diabetes.
Dr. Malik was not involved in the study.
The study reported that the two regions with the highest incidence of foodborne type 2 diabetes (T2D) were Central and Eastern Europe and Central Asia, which accounted for 85.6% of new diagnoses of T2D from these regions. In Latin America and the Caribbean, slightly less, 81.8%, of new cases were attributable to diet.
South Asia had the lowest percentage of T2D attributable to diet, 55.4%.
“For example, the increase in type 2 diabetes due to excessive consumption of unprocessed red meat in East Asia from 1990 to 2018 reflects the tremendous population growth, increased urbanization and demographic changes in this region” , pointed out Dr. O’Hearn.
Exceptions to this were, however, high-income countries as well as countries in Central and Eastern Europe and Central Asia, where diet-related T2D was more common among rural and less educated people.
Despite the highest incidence of foodborne T2D, Central and Eastern Europe and Central Asia have actually seen a drop in T2D rates attributed to excessive consumption of red meat. Dr O’Hearn added that the decline in red meat-related T2D rates in these areas may in fact reflect a “growing awareness among consumers and businesses of the negative human health impacts and health constraints global consumption of red meat”.
“Our results reflect in many ways local socio-economic contexts,” said Dr. O’Hearn.
“The food environment is a key factor because it can influence food access and availability (i.e. easy access to low-cost fast foods or low-quality processed foods in low-income areas),” Dr. Malik explained.
Among age groups, young people had the highest percentage of T2D cases attributable to diet, although they had fewer T2D diagnoses overall.
The group with the highest raw number of such cases was middle-aged adults 45-60, even with a lower percentage of T2D cases.
“Our results suggest that there are differences in eating habits at different ages and that older people have other competing risk factors for type 2 diabetes in addition to dietary risk.
In contrast, the vast majority of cases of type 2 diabetes are due to poor diet in young adults.
– Dr. O’Hearn
“There is a need for widespread nutrition education and other policies that can help consumers make healthier choices,” Dr. Malik said.
Examples she listed include “front-of-package labelling, restricting marketing of unhealthy foods/drinks to children, taxing sugary drinks, and (creating) healthy food environments – i.e. school meal programs – (and) nutritional standards in institutions, etc. ”
Tackling access and financial barriers to healthier food, Dr. O’Hearn is now Impact Director for Future Food Systems, an organization which, in her own words, “was founded to catalyze, enable, and scale market-driven agtech, food tech, and innovative businesses across the value chain to improve nutrition outcomes in underserved and low-income communities.