Frequent Consumption Of White Rice Linked To Diabetes

Frequent consumption of white rice—a popular food staple here and in many other countries—has been linked to increased risk for Type 2 diabetes, according to a new study just published on

Harvard School of Public Health researchers reviewed prior studies and data on the link between consuming white rice and risks for Type 2 diabetes, said Science Daily. The study sought to determine if the risk is based on how much rice is consumed and if the link is greater for the Asian population, known to eat more white rice than Westerners.

The researchers reviewed the results from four other studies—two in Asian countries (China and Japan) and two in Western countries (the United States and Australia). The participants in all of the studies were diagnosed as diabetes free at study baseline, said Science Daily.

White rice is the predominant rice type eaten around the world and has high GI values, which are linked to increased risks for developing Type 2 diabetes, explained Science Daily. Average consumption for the staple varied greatly between Asian and Western countries; the Chinese demographic consumed about four portions of white rice daily, while Westerners ate under five portions weekly.

A significant trend was seen in all the countries studied; a more increased link was seen in women over men, Science Daily explained. The research also revealed that the more white rice consumed, the greater the risk for Type 2 diabetes, increasing by 10% with every additional serving of white rice. A serving measured at 158g, said Science Daily.

White rice has less nutrients than, for instance, brown rice, which has increased amounts of fiber, magnesium, and vitamins, some of which are linked to lowered risks for Type 2 diabetes, noted Science Daily. According to the report, high white rice consumption may lead to increased Type 2 diabetes risks because of decreased ingestion of these nutrients.

The authors concluded that “higher white rice intake is associated with a significantly elevated risk of Type 2 diabetes,” in both Asian and Western cultures, said Science Daily. The authors note that their findings support the theory that the more white rice consumed, the greater the risk. The team recommend consuming whole grains as opposed to refined carbohydrates, including white rice.

This is not the first time we’ve written about increased risk for disease linked to consumption of various types of food. We recently wrote that increased cancer and heart disease risks are being linked to consumption of red meat. Long known to be a food to be enjoyed sparingly, the well-respected study—also conducted by researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health—found a daily serving of red meat can be dangerous.

The results of the Harvard study coincided with a 10-year study published in 2009 involving more than 500,000 people from the National Cancer Institute. Another recent study found that increased meat consumption was linked to increased risks for kidney cancer.

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