Consuming high-fat dairy products may lower risk of type 2 diabetes, study
People with the highest consumption of high-fat dairy products (8 or more portions per day) had a 23 per cent lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes than those with the lowest consumption (1 or less per day), according to research from the Lund University in Sweden.
The research, presented at this year’s annual meeting of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes (EASD) in Vienna, Austria, was undertaken by Dr Ulrika Ericson and colleagues from the Lund University Diabetes Center, Malmö, Sweden.
Dietary fats could have crucial role in type 2 diabetes development
Previous research has found that dietary fats could affect glucose metabolism and insulin sensitivity and may therefore have a crucial role in the development of type 2 diabetes. Some studies have indicated that replacing saturated fat with monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats might be favourable in the prevention of type 2 diabetes.
In line with this, plant sources of fat have been suggested to be a better choice compared with animal sources. Indeed, high intakes of red meat and meat products have been shown to increase the risk of type 2 diabetes.
High dairy intake could be protective
Nevertheless, several epidemiological studies have indicated that a high intake of dairy products may be protective. Subsequently, according to the Lund University researchers, the importance of dietary fat content and food sources of fat remained to be clarified.
In this new study, the researchers aimed to examine intakes of main dietary fat sources, classified according to fat content, and their association with risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
“Our observations may contribute to clarifying previous findings regarding dietary fats and their food sources in relation to type 2 diabetes,” said Dr Ericson. “The decreased risk at high intakes of high- fat dairy products, but not of low-fat dairy products, indicate that dairy fat, at least partly, explains observed protective associations between dairy intake and type 2 diabetes,” she said.
The study included 26 930 individuals (60 per cent women), aged 45-74 years, from the population-based Malmö Diet and Cancer cohort. Dietary data was collected with a modified diet history method.
During 14 years of follow up, 2860 incident type 2 diabetes cases were identified. Modelling was used to estimate hazard ratios (HR) of diabetes incidence in quintiles of energy adjusted dietary intakes. The model included adjustments for age, sex, season, diet assessment method version, total energy intake, BMI, leisure time physical activity, smoking, alcohol consumption and education.
The researchers found that high intake of high-fat dairy products was associated with a 23 per cent lower incidence of type 2 diabetes for the highest consuming 20 per cent of participants (or quintile) (median=8 portions/day) compared with the lowest consuming 20 per cent (median=1 portion/day).
Concerning intakes of specific high-fat dairy foods, increasing intake of cream (30ml or more a day in the highest consuming 20 per cent versus 0.3ml a day or less in the lowest consuming 20 per cent) was associated with a 15 per cent reduction in risk of developing type 2 diabetes. High-fat fermented milk consumption also reduced the risk of developing diabetes by 20 per cent, when comparing the highest consumers (180ml/day, the top 10 per cent of consumers), with the non-consumers (60 per cent of participants).
In contrast to these findings, there was no association found between intakes of low-fat dairy products and risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
High meat intake associated with increased risk
The researchers found that when the highest-consuming 20 per cent was compared to the lowest-consuming 20 per cent, high intakes of meat and meat products were, regardless of fat content, associated with increased risk. However, the increased risk was higher for lower fat meats (increased risk of type 2 diabetes for high fat meats 9 per cent, for low fat 24 per cent). The highest consuming group for the high-fat meat had 90g or more per day, and for the low-fat meat 80g per day.
“Our findings suggest, that in contrast to animal fats in general, fats specific to dairy products may have a role in prevention of type 2 diabetes,” Dr Ericson said.