High intake of animal protein may raise diabetes risk

Tue, 15 Apr 2014
A new study suggests that the risk of developing type 2 diabetes may be higher for people who eat a lot of protein, especially protein from animal sources.

The finding comes from a new report by researchers at Wageningen University in the Netherlands. The team analysed a large previous study of European adults, which collected data on participants' diet, physical activity levels, height, weight and waist circumference, and then followed them to see who developed diabetes.

Average protein intake among the participants was roughly 90 grams per day. After adjusting for other common diabetes risk factors, the investigators found that individuals who ate more had a higher weight-to-height ratio and were at greater risk for type 2 diabetes, with the risk rising by 6% for every additional 10 grams of protein consumed each day.

People who ate the most amount of protein (around 111 grams per day) were 17% more likely to become diabetic than those who ate the least (around 72 grams per day), and the risk rose to 22% for those who ate the most animal protein (78 grams per day) compared to people with the lowest intake of animal protein (around 36 grams per day).

The findings, published in the journal Diabetes Care, also showed that people who ate the most protein got about 15% of their calories from red meat, processed meat, poultry, fish and dairy. Red and processed meats, in particular, have been consistently linked with increased risk of type 2 diabetes.

Additionally, consumption of plant-based protein was not associated with higher diabetes risk.

Dr. Frank Hu, from the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston, who was not involved in the new study, commented that replacing red meat and processed meat with plant sources of protein can help prevent type 2 diabetes such as nuts, legumes, whole grains and other plant sources have been linked to lower diabetes risk in previous studies.
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