The consumption of low-fat dairy foods may reduce men’s risk of developing type 2 diabetes, according to a study in the May 9 issue of Archives of Internal Medicine. The report from researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH), and Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) – the first large-scale, prospective examination of a relationship between dairy intake and diabetes risk – analyzes data from the HSPH-based Health Professionals Follow-Up Study.
“Our study found that men consuming higher levels of dairy products, especially low-fat dairy foods, had a significantly lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes during a 12-year period,” says Hyon Choi, director of Outcomes Research in the MGH Rheumatology Unit, the paper’s lead author.
“While individuals should consider both the benefits and risks of dairy foods before considering changing their diets, consuming up to two servings daily of low-fat dairy products can probably be recommended for most people.”
Lifestyle factors such as diet, exercise, and weight are established risk factors for type 2 diabetes. Several recent studies have suggested that dairy consumption may help control weight and blood pressure, and reduce the risks of health problems such as coronary artery disease and gout. Other research has implied that dairy foods could help prevent insulin resistance, a precursor to type 2 diabetes. The researchers conducted the current study to directly examine the relationship between dairy consumption and diabetes. Initiated in 1986, the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study has gathered information regarding the relationship between dietary factors and several illnesses from more than 50,000 men employed in the health professions. Every two years, participants complete questionnaires regarding their diseases and health-related topics like smoking and exercise, and every four years the questionnaires also collect comprehensive dietary information.