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Can a plant-based diet reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes?

 Plant Based Die:

Top Line:

Greater adherence to a plant-based dietary pattern was associated with a reduced risk of developing type 2 diabetes (T2D) in middle-aged American adults.

Higher intake of healthy plant foods, rather than lower intake of non-red meat animal foods, was the main factor in the opposite relationship.

modus operandi:

  • The population studied from the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) study was 11,965 adults aged 45–64 years who did not have diabetes at baseline and who complete a food-frequency questionnaire.
  • Plant-based diet adherence was categorize overall with the plant-based diet index (PDI) and with the high healthy PDI (HPDI) and high unhealthy PDI (UPDI) indices.

take away:

  • Average daily total plant and animal food intake for the highest quintile (5) were 15.1 and 3.4 servings, respectively while average consumption for the lowest quintile (1) was 9.9 and 5.8 servings, respectively.
  • During an average of 22 years of follow-up, 35% (n = 4208) of participants developed T2D.
  • After controlling for age, sex, race, energy intake, education, income, smoking, alcohol intake. physical activity and margarine intake, those in PDI quintile 5 were more likely to develop T2D than those in quintile 1 (hazard ratio) The risk was quite low. 0.89; P = .01).
  • As a continuous score, each 10-point higher PDI score was associated with a significant 6% lower risk for T2D (P = .01).
  • Higher hPDI scores were also inversely associated with T2D risk (hazard ratio, 0.85 for quintiles 5 vs 1); P <.001), and (0.90 more for every 10 units); P <.001).
  • Regardless of adjustment, higher UPDI scores were not significantly associated with diabetes risk (P >.05).
  • multiple comparisons (all Pinteraction >.05).
  • Further adjustment for BMI attenuated the association between overall and healthy plant-based diets and diabetes risk.
  • suggesting that lower adiposity may partially explain the favorable association.

in behaviour:

“An emphasis on plant foods may be an effective dietary strategy to delay or prevent the onset of diabetes.”


Valerie K. Welch of the Welch Center for Prevention, Epidemiology, and Clinical Research, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland, and colleagues. The study by Sullivan, PhD, RD, and colleagues was published online. diabetes care,


Limitations were self-reported dietary intake, assessment of diet decades ago, potential food misclassification, potential selection bias, and residual confounding.


The ARIC study was funded by the US National Institutes of Health. The authors had no other disclosures.

Miriam E. Tucker is a freelance journalist based in the Washington, DC area. He is a regular contributor to Medscape, with his other work appearing in the Washington Post, NPR’s Shots blog, and Diabetes Forecast magazine. he is on X (formerly known as Twitter) @MiriamItkar.

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April 2024
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