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Plant-Based Diet Adherence Tied to Lower Type 2 Diabetes Risk

THURSDAY, Jan. 28, 2021 -- Adherence to plant-based diets is associated with a lower risk for type 2 diabetes, according to a study published online Jan. 13 in Diabetes Care.

Zhangling Chen, from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston, and colleagues used data from the Nurses' Health Study (NHS [1986 to 2012]; 76,530 women) and NHS II (1991 to 2017; 81,569 women) as well as the Health Professionals Follow-up Study (1986 to 2016; 34,468 men) to evaluate the association between plant-based diets and the subsequent risk for type 2 diabetes.

The researchers found 12,627 cases of type 2 diabetes during 2,955,350 person-years of follow-up. Participants with the largest decrease (>10 percent) in the plant-based diet index (PDI) and healthful PDI (hPDI) over four years had a higher diabetes risk in the subsequent four years (PDI: pooled hazard ratio [HR], 1.12; hPDI: HR, 1.23) compared with participants with stable PDI or hPDI, when adjusting for initial body mass index and initial and four-year changes in alcohol intake, smoking, physical activity, and other factors. The risk for diabetes was lower for each 10 percent increment in the PDI and hPDI over four years (PDI: HR, 0.93; hPDI: HR, 0.91). There was no association noted between changes in unhealthful PDI and diabetes risk. Between 6 and 35.6 percent of the associations between changes in the PDI and hPDI and diabetes risk was accounted for by weight changes.

"The findings of the current study not only confirm previous reports but also demonstrate that both four-year and longer-term (eight-year) improvements in adherence to overall and healthful plant-based diets are associated with lower diabetes risk," the authors write.

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