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Pr Nita Forouhi: Dairy Product Intake and Incident Type 2 Diabetes

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Dietary Dairy Product Intake and Incident Type 2 Diabetes

Pr Nita Forouhi, Cambridge



We’ve just finished conducting a study in England. This was a prospective study, so people did not have diabetes at the start. And we followed them forward in time to see who develop diabetes and we linked that to the intake of dairy products and other foods. And a unique feature of this study, it is in the EPIC-Norfolk study, is that we have details, dietary details from seven day food diaries. Now this is quite different to the standard litterature, which is about that, which is all based on food frequency questionnaires. So this gave us a distinctive advantage of much more detailled and comprehensive dietary data.


With that, we were able to do an analysis which showed that while there is no association between total dairy products and incidence of diabetes, low fat fermented dairy products were inversedly associated with a 24 percent reduced risk of diabetes, and specifiquely yogurt made up somewhere around 87 percent of the low fat fermented dairy products, and that was associated with a 28 percent reduced risk of diabetes.


It is possible that total dairy did not reach an association because we have differences in the associations with the individual components that make up a total dairy. The fact that fermented dairy products in particular were associated with reduced risk probably point to additionnal things that happen to dairy during the fermentation process. So dairy has a huge amount of nutrient density, it’s a good type of food, dairy as a whole, with vitamins, minerals, possibly the good types of saturated fatty acids in terms of fifteen and seventeen carbon chain light fatty acids. But additionnaly, fermentation probably is giving us the advantage of probiotic effect that’s likelly to play a part.


All our dietary guidelines are based on the notion that all saturated fat has adverse health effects for cardiovascular disease but we think these were contribute to wards the opening that understanding for diabetes in terms of wether the dairy fat is different in terms of its quality and that not all saturated fat is homogenous. There are nuances in the sources of these dietary fats, and dairy products seem to be associated with probably good quality fat. Thre’s evidence for this from other work. Of course, no piece of work is totally new in isolation. There are some nice work from the Harvard group who had shown that transfat that are from the ruminent products can also be beneficial.


Our work ads meaning for the already known work on the possible protective effect of dairy products, particularly fermented dairy products, and yogurt intake in particular as part of that, for the prevention of diabetes, but we have to always remember that no single food or food group alone works in isolation and we must place this in the context of overall healthy diet and healthy lifestyle.



Previous editions


Best of Science in Nutrition 2013: Yogurt for a healthier diet (EB & IUNS 2013)

Best of Science in Nutrition 2013: Yogurt for a healthier diet (EB & IUNS 2013)
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