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Diet & Health : General Health Last Updated: Apr 20, 2011 - 9:38:09 AM

Energy dense diet ups diabetes risk
By Sue Mueller
Nov 2, 2008 - 11:18:23 AM

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Sunday November 2, 2008 ( – A new study published in the November 2008 issue of Diabetes Care suggests that eating an energy dense diet may increase risk of developing diabetes.


The rate of diabetes has doubled in the past decade, according to a report released Thursday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or CDC.

Energy dense diet has been linked in early studies to obesity which has in turn been associated with increased risk of type 2 diabetes.   And the editorials for the CDC report said the increased diabetes prevalence has something to do with obesity, which is also on the rise in the U.S.


The current study showed those who consumed energy dense diets were more likely to develop type 2 diabetes compared to those who ate low-energy density diets.


For the study, Wang J and colleagues from Institute of Metabolic Science in Cambridge, United Kingdom followed men and women ages 40 to 79 who participated in The European Prospective Investigation of Cancer (EPIC)-Norfolk Cohort Study for 12 years.


The subjects, who were free of diabetes, cancer, or cardiovascular disease when entering the study, were questioned for their dietary habits and the researchers calculated the energy density of their diets based on results from food frequency questionnaires.  


The researchers found that after adjusting age, sex and baseline body mass index, energy density at the time the study began was higher in those who developed diabetes (3.08kJ/g) during the follow-up than those who did not develop the disease (3.01 kJ/g).


The higher the energy density of a diet, the higher the risk of diabetes.    One unit of increase in energy density was associated with an increase of 21 percent in the risk.


Those who were in the quintile consuming diets with the highest energy density (ranging from 3.55 to 7.97 kJ/g were 60 percent more likely to develop diabetes than those who were in the quintile consuming diets with the lowest energy density (1.04 to 2.43 kJ/g).


The researchers concluded "This is the first large population-based prospective study to report that an energy-dense diet may be associated with increased risk of development of diabetes, independent of baseline obesity. The potential public health impact of a low-energy-dense diet on reducing the risk of diabetes deserves further study."


Those who used a high energy density diet may be at risk of overeating and obesity, a health observer commented. The study did not say if there was an association between obesity and consumption of a high energy dense diet.   Chances should be good that the association existed.


Diabetes with 90 to 95 percent type 2 affects about 30 million of Americans. It may be caused by a variety of risk factors including older age, lower educational attainment, low physical activity, obesity, and weight gain.

The data in the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report show that in the past decade, incidence (new cases) of diagnosed diabetes has increase from 0.48 percent during 1995-1997 to 0.91 percent in 2005-2007 in 33 states surveyed.

Type 2 diabetes - a condition in which cells do not use insulin properly to convert sugar to energy leading to buildup of sugar in the blood can cause complications such as heart disease, blindness, kidney failure and poor circulation in the feet.





Wang J, Luben R, Khaw KT, Bingham S, Wareham NJ, Forouhi NG.

Dietary energy density predicts the risk of incident type 2 diabetes: the European Prospective Investigation of Cancer (EPIC)-Norfolk Study.

Diabetes Care. 2008 Nov;31(11):2120-5

Medical Research Council Epidemiology Unit, Institute of Metabolic Science, Cambridge, UK.

© 2004-2008 by unless otherwise specified

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