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Dietary patterns linked to type 2 diabetes risk


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By Michelle Rizzo

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Avoiding meats and fatty foods and eating lots of salads and cooked vegetables appears to reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, according to study findings published in the American Journal of Epidemiology.

Dr. Allison Hodge, of the University of Melbourne, Australia, and colleagues examined the association between dietary patterns and type 2 diabetes in a 4-year study of 36,787 adults in the Melbourne Collaborative Cohort who provided dietary information. During follow-up, 365 new cases of type 2 diabetes were diagnosed.

The researchers defined four eating patterns, based on the predominance of 123 foods and beverages in the diet, which included: olive oil, salad, vegetables, legumes and avoidance of sweet bakery items, margarine and tea (Mediterranean); a variety of salads and vegetables (Salad and Vegetable); meats and fatty fried foods (Meat); and many different fruits (Fruit).

The Mediterranean pattern was associated with country of birth but not with diabetes, according to the authors. There was an inverse association observed between the Salad and Vegetable pattern and diabetes. The Meat pattern was positively associated with diabetes. No association was observed between the Fruit pattern and diabetes risk.

"Our results suggest that avoiding an eating pattern including meat and fatty foods, and favoring a pattern high in salad and cooked vegetables could reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes," Hodge said in an interview with Reuters Health.

"What is important is that the focus is on eating patterns rather than single foods," she explained. "It may be that these eating patterns contribute to diabetes risk through an impact on body weight; overweight and obesity are still the most important risk factors for type 2 diabetes."

"One interesting thing about our results is that unlike most researchers who have identified eating patterns using factor analysis, we do not find a 'healthy' and an 'unhealthy' pattern," Hodge said. This may be related to the influence of Greek and Italian migrants in Australia, resulting in a wider variety of foods in the diets of the study subjects.

SOURCE: American Journal of Epidemiology, March 2007.

© 2007 Reuters Health.

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