Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Higher Carb, Higher GI and High GL = Higher Risk for Diabetes

A study published in the November 26, 2007 edition of the Archives of Internal Medicine, Prospective Study of Dietary Carbohydrates, Glycemic Index, Glycemic Load, and Incidence of Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus in Middle-aged Chinese Women, reached a startling conclusion, "High intake of foods with a high glycemic index and glycemic load, especially rice, the main carbohydrate-contributing food in this population, may increase the risk of type 2 diabetes mellitus in Chinese women." [emphasis mine]

In the study, researchers reviewed the food consumption records of 64,227 Chinese women with no history of disbetes or chronic disease for 4.6-years. They conducted in-person interviews and collected data about dietary habits, exercise and lifestyle factors. Over the study period, 1,608 women developed diabetes (defined in the study as a fasting blood glucose greater than or equal to 126mg/dL.When the researchers analyzed the dietary habits they found the risk of diabetes was 78% higher in women consuming the most carbohydrate each day, with rice making up the largest portion of carbohydrate in this population of women.

As MedPage Today noted, "In a multivariate analysis, women in the highest quintile of carbohydrate intake had a 28% greater risk of diabetes compared with women in the lowest quintile (95% CI: 1.09 to 1.50). Women who consumed the most rice had a 78% greater risk of diabetes compared with women who had the lowest rice consumption (95% CI: 1.48 to 2.15)." [emphasis mine]

What is really interesting, at least from my perspective, is that the women in the lowest quintile ate a similar calorie load as those in the highest quintile - yet the diets of the two groups were vastly different with not only carbohydrate, but also protein and fat. The women with the lowest risk consumed an average 84g a day of protein and 43g of fat - the women with the highest risk consumed an average 60g of protein and just 22g of fat.

The carbohydrate intake of those found to have a high risk for developing diabetes wasn't shocking by American standards - 338g per day! Those in the lowest quintile consumed 22% less carbohydrate on average, or 264g a day. Another interesting tidbit from the study data - those consuming less carbohydrate actually had a higher intake of fiber - 13.8g versus 9.3g per day.


  1. "High intake of foods with a high glycemic index and glycemic load, especially rice, the main carbohydrate-contributing food in this population, may increase the risk of type 2 diabetes mellitus in Chinese women." [emphasis mine]

    Personally, in a fit of sarcasm when speaking of any statement made by the medical establishment regarding carbohydrate consumption, I would have emphasized the word "may" in that sentence, instead of "especially rice". ;)

    The numbers regarding carb/protein/fat ratios and related diabetes risk doesn't surprise me at all. I look around at the people in this country, the way obesity rates are skyrocketing right along with diabetes rates, and then wander through the grocery store where practically everything is promoted as low fat, cholesterol free, or fat free. It's getting hard to find anything that hasn't had all the fat sucked right out of it before hitting the shelves, even good protein sources that have a naturally occurring fat content.

    I wonder how long it's going to take before The Powers That Be sit up and take notice of what Taubes' is saying in his book about the actual scientific data not supporting the current low-fat dogma, and understand what they're pushing us to do to ourselves? Do they even want to see it? Or is there just too much money in turning a blind eye to it all?

    So good to see you back Regina - I've missed your postings!

  2. Anonymous5:43 PM

    Nice to have you back, I hope it's not a month until the next post.

  3. One of the frustrations of trying to manage the glycemic impact of your diet is that there are still so many common foods with no GI rating. The chief GI lab is in Sydney, Australia and they analyze a lot of packaged foods that aren't available in North America.
    FYI, NutritionData.com has developed a way to estimate glycemic load for a much wider variety of foods. You can read more on NutritionData.com

  4. So much for the Healthy Asian Diet.

  5. Anonymous3:27 PM

    We miss you!
    You must be quite busy doing something else...any hints on you new project(s)?

  6. Now I'll have something to respond with to those people who insists that carbs aren't bad because the Chinese eat lots of rice and they aren't unhealthy.

  7. Anonymous2:05 PM

    Don't the Chinese eat REFINED white rice, rather than whole grain brown rice? It seems this study's results would be different if they looked at a population that was not eating refined carbs.

    I support low carb, but at times feel low carbers are too quick to demonize all carbohydrates, just like militant lowfat advocates are often too quick to demonize all fats.

    I can't help but think of Weston Price's research...he found plenty of folks that ate carbs, and were healthy. But they did not eat REFINED carbs.