White rice increases risk of Type 2 diabetes

March 16, 2012

The risk of type 2 diabetes is significantly increased if white rice is eaten regularly, claims a study published today in the British Medical Journal.

The authors from the Harvard School of Public Health look at previous studies and evidence of the association between eating and the risk of . Their study seeks to determine whether this risk is dependent on the amount of rice consumed and if the association is stronger for the Asian population, who tend to eat more white rice than the Western world.

The authors analysed the results of four studies: two in (China and Japan) and two in Western countries (USA and Australia). All participants were diabetes free at study baseline.

White rice is the predominant type of rice eaten worldwide and has high GI values. High GI diets are associated with an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes. The average amount of rice eaten varies widely between Western and Asian countries, with the Chinese population eating an average of four portions a day while those in the Western world eat less than five portions a week.

A significant trend was found in both Asian and with a stronger association found amongst women than men. The results also show that the more white rice eaten, the higher the risk of type 2 diabetes: the authors estimate that the risk of type 2 diabetes is increased by 10% with each increased serving of white rice (assuming 158g per serving).

White rice has a lower content of than including fibre, and vitamins, some of which are associated with a lower risk of type 2 diabetes. The authors report, therefore, that a high consumption of white rice may lead to increased risk because of the low intake of these nutrients.

In conclusion, the authors state that "higher white rice intake is associated with a significantly elevated risk of type 2 diabetes". This applies for both Asian and Western cultures, although due to findings suggesting that the more rice eaten the higher the risk, it is thought that Asian countries are at a higher risk. The authors recommend eating whole grains instead of refined carbohydrates such as white rice, which they hope will help slow down the global diabetes epidemic.

In an accompanying editorial, Dr Bruce Neal from the University of Sydney suggests that more, bigger studies are needed to substantiate the research hypothesis that white rice increases the chances of getting type 2 diabetes.

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Major fall in diabetes-related amputations since the 1990s

November 22, 2015

A major new study has found a significant reduction in diabetes-related amputations since the mid-1990s, credited to improvements in diabetes care over this period. The research is published in Diabetologia (the journal of ...

Blocking immune cell treats new type of age-related diabetes

November 18, 2015

Diabetes is often the result of obesity and poor diet choices, but for some older adults the disease might simply be a consequence of aging. New research has discovered that diabetes—or insulin resistance—in aged, lean ...

Bacteria may cause type 2 diabetes

June 1, 2015

Bacteria and viruses have an obvious role in causing infectious diseases, but microbes have also been identified as the surprising cause of other illnesses, including cervical cancer (Human papilloma virus) and stomach ulcers ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.