The article, Low-fat dairy may lower women’s diabetes risk, opens with "A diet that includes lots of low-fat dairy products may lower the risk of type 2 diabetes in women, new research suggests," and continues with details of the just published study where researchers "looked for the relationship between type 2 diabetes and dietary levels of dairy foods and calcium in 37,183 women in the Women’s Health Study. A total of 1,603 women developed diabetes during an average follow-up of 10 years."
The lead researcher, Dr. Simin Liu, from the University of California Los Angeles School of Public Health noted he and his colleagues undertook the investigation because a series of recent studies suggests that a high level of dairy foods in the diet may lower the risk of being overweight or developing insulin resistance syndrome, studies that have examined the link between these factors and diabetes risk are sparse.
When I first started to read through the data, I was struck by just how many confounding factors they "adjusted" to reach their significant findings!
- smoking status
- physical activity
- family history of diabetes
- alcohol consumption
- history of hypertension
- use of hormones
- high cholesterol
After "adjusting" for these inconvenient variables, the researchers concluded "A dietary pattern that incorporates higher low-fat dairy products may lower the risk of type 2 diabetes in middle-aged or older women."
They didn't add IF you're normal weight, don't smoke, are active, don't have a family history of diabetes, drink in moderation, don't have a family history of high blood pressure, aren't using hormones and don't have high cholesterol. Basically, they forgot to add the findings apply to those who are in good health!
Which begs the question - was it the inclusion of dairy or was it an overall better dietary and lifestyle pattern that kept these women in good health?
The problem with studies such as this is they're focused only on one particular in a dietary pattern that includes a wide variety of other foods. Add to that lifestyle, genetics and family history and it's impossible to say with any certainty that one particular food or food group is protective against disease. It's a leap of faith to say eating more dairy lowers the risk of type 2 diabetes without considering those confounding variables that were conveniently "adjusted" out of the equation.
I hate to say it, but this isn't science. If you ask me, it seems more like a manipulation of data to promote the dairy industry and the consumption of milk and dairy products.
Hey, I like dairy - I eat natural cheese, whole milk yogurt and occassionally even enjoy some good homemade ice cream - but do I need to include dairy to prevent diabetes? No
Reducing the risk of diabetes comes down to two things - eating a nutrient-rich diet and staying active. Sure, dairy can be part of that equation, but it's not an essential food, holds no magical metabolic protection and is an absolute nightmare for those who are lactose intolerant.