Low-fat Dairy Products Reduce Risk of Type 2 Diabetes in Postmenopausal Women

Low fat milk icon or badge with ribbon on white backgroundResearch has shown that eating low-fat dairy products can lower the overall risk of type 2 diabetes. However, until now, there have been no studies that have focused exclusively on an ethnically diverse group of postmenopausal women—a population with a high risk of type 2 diabetes.

US researchers conducted a prospective cohort study that included 82,076 postmenopausal women who were enrolled in the Women’s Health Initiative Observational Study. These women did not report diabetes at enrollment in the study.

Results of the study appeared in the November 2011 issue of the Journal of Nutrition in the article “A diet high in low-fat dairy products lowers diabetes risk in postmenopausal women.”

The following were estimated from the FFQ at baseline and then again at the 3-year follow up:

  • High-fat dairy product intake
  • Low-fat intake
  • Total fat intake
  • Yogurt intake

Treated diabetes incidence was determined from the annual follow-up questionnaires given to study participants.

The research team noted that during the 8-year follow up, 3,946 cases of incident-treated diabetes were reported (annual incidence: 0.73%; cumulative incidence: 4.8%).

Are Low-fat Dairy Products Linked to a Lower Risk of Type 2 Diabetes?
After multi-variable adjustment, researchers found that low-fat dairy products were inversely associated with type 2 diabetes risk. Furthermore, the inverse relationship was more pronounced in women who had a higher body mass index.

For this study, relative risk was about 0.5 to 0.6 in the upper quintiles vs the lowest quintile. The median servings per day were 2.8 in the fifth quintile and 1.5 in the fourth quintile compared with 0.05 in the first quintile (p-trend<0.001).

Researchers also found that high yogurt consumption was linked to a significant reduction in the risk of type 2 diabetes and there was no connection between eating high-fat dairy products and the risk of diabetes.

The research team concluded that postmenopausal women—especially those who are obese—who eat a diet that is high in low-fat dairy products have an overall lower risk of type 2 diabetes.

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