A study of over 3,500 over fifty year olds in Spain shows that a Mediterranean diet has the chance to significantly cut the number of people developing type 2 diabetes compared with a low fat diet.
The study ran for four years and included 3,541 participants from Spain aged between 55 and 80 years old. None of the participants had diabetes at the beginning of the trial but they all had at least three risk factors for heart disease such as having high cholesterol, being overweight and being smokers.
The study randomly assigned the participants to one of three different diets as follows:

A Mediterranean diet which included the most of its unsaturated fat from extra virgin olive oil
A second Mediterranean diet which took most of its unsaturated fat from mixed nuts
A low fat diet

A Mediterranean diet is relatively high in fat and has a much higher intake of vegetables than the average UK diet. Low fat diets tend to be carbohydrate focused, with 45 to 60% of energy coming from carbohydrate.
Over the course of the study 273 participants, 7.7% of all participants, developed type 2 diabetes. Out of those on the olive oil focused Mediterranean diet, 6.9% of participants developed type 2 diabetes. Of those on the mixed nuts focused Med diet, 7.4% developed type 2. Of those on the low fat diet, 8.8% developed type 2.
The results show that those assigned to the low fat diet were around 30% more likely to develop type 2 diabetes than those on the higher fat, extra virgin olive oil focused Mediterranean diet.
Some of the increased risk of diabetes associated with the low fat diet may be put down to the fact that a lower number of participants adhered to the low fat diet advice than the Mediterranean diet groups. However, the study will raise more question marks as to whether the Department of Health and the NHS should continue advising people to pursue low fat diets. A number of recent studies have shown failings in low fat diets to reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes and failings of a low fat diet to adequately control diabetes.

Get our free newsletters

Stay up to date with the latest news, research and breakthroughs.

You May Also Like

Coronavirus: UK instructed to stay at home this weekend

Health Secretary Matt Hancock has said that staying at home this weekend…

Top diabetes professor drafts risk assessment document for frontline COVID-19 staff

The health and wellbeing of frontline NHS staff has been prioritised among…

Twice daily dairy intakes could reduce type 2 diabetes risk

Eating cheese, yoghurt or eggs twice a day could help lower the…