Study: Women Who Eat A Healthy Diet Can Lower Diabetes Risk


BOSTON (ASRN.ORG) - Women who eat an overall healthy diet can significantly lower their risk of developing diabetes, and the benefit of the better diet begins to show within just a few years, according to a study in the July issue of the journal Diabetes Care, led by Professor Teresa Fung of the Simmons College School for Health Studies in Boston.

Type 2 diabetes, commonly called adult onset diabetes, damages nerves in the body and can lead to blindness, amputation, or death.

The study's findings could provide important guidance for health providers and their patients in light of the growing national concern over obesity, and recent separate findings by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control that little headway has been made in lowering the death rate among women suffering from diabetes in the past 35 years.

Fung and her fellow researchers looked at data on the diets of more than 80,000 women in the Nurse's Health Study between 1984 and 2002.

They used the Alternate Healthy Eating Index, a modified version of the Healthy Eating Index developed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, to measure nine components in the women's diets.

The diet favors low intake of red meat and processed meats, moderate amounts of healthy fats such as monosaturated or polyunsaturated oils (like olive oil and corn oil), moderate alcohol consumption, and abundant amounts of fruits, vegetables and whole grains.

The researchers found that the sooner a woman adopts a healthy diet as defined by the index, the stronger the diabetes prevention benefits will be.

Women who adhered to this healthy diet over the 18-year period examined in the study reduced their diabetes risk by 36 percent compared to women who did not.

Researchers also found that women lowered their risk of diabetes within as few as four years, but the link between healthy diet and lower diabetes risk weakens for overweight women who wait longer to start eating better.

The only caveat to the healthier diet is that it does not lower diabetes risk in women who smoke or who have high blood pressure, the researchers found. (These women may see other benefits of eating a better diet, but this particular study did not reveal any significant reduction in diabetes risk).

The study also shows that these dietary changes confer a benefit independent of the amount of exercise the women did.

Researchers caution that there may be other lifestyle habits that could lower the risk of diabetes and affect the results.

But the study's outcome could serve as a guide for health providers in discussing diabetes prevention with patients and the public.

© ASRN.ORG 2007. All rights reserved.


Articles in this issue:


  • Masthead

    Editor-in Chief:
    Kirsten Nicole

    Editorial Staff:
    Kirsten Nicole
    Stan Kenyon
    Robyn Bowman
    Kimberly McNabb
    Lisa Gordon
    Stephanie Robinson

    Kirsten Nicole
    Stan Kenyon
    Liz Di Bernardo
    Cris Lobato
    Elisa Howard
    Susan Cramer

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