Regular consumption of white rice significantly increases the risk of type 2 diabetes, finds a study.
The authors from the Harvard School of Public Health look at
previous studies and evidence of the association between eating white rice and
the risk of type 2 diabetes. Their study seeks to determine whether this risk
is dependent on the amount of rice consumed and if the association is stronger
for the Asian population, who tend to eat more white rice than the Western
The authors analysed the results of four studies: two in
Asian countries (China and Japan) and two in Western countries (USA and Australia). All participants were
diabetes free at study baseline.
White rice is the predominant type of rice eaten worldwide
and has high GI values. High GI diets are associated with an increased risk of
developing type 2 diabetes. The average amount of rice eaten varies widely
between Western and Asian countries, with the Chinese population eating an
average of four portions a day while those in the Western world eat less than
five portions a week.
A significant trend was found in both Asian and Western
countries with a stronger association found amongst women than men. The results
also show that the more white rice eaten, the higher the risk of type 2
diabetes: the authors estimate that the risk of type 2 diabetes is increased by
10% with each increased serving of white rice (assuming 158g per serving).
White rice has a lower content of nutrients than brown rice
including fibre, magnesium and vitamins, some of which are associated with a
lower risk of type 2 diabetes. The authors report, therefore, that a high
consumption of white rice may lead to increased risk because of the low intake
of these nutrients.
In conclusion, the authors state that "higher white rice
intake is associated with a significantly elevated risk of type 2 diabetes".
This applies for both Asian and Western cultures, although due to findings
suggesting that the more rice eaten the higher the risk, it is thought that
Asian countries are at a higher risk. The authors recommend eating whole grains
instead of refined carbohydrates such as white rice, which they hope will help
slow down the global diabetes epidemic.
In an accompanying editorial, Dr Bruce Neal from the University of Sydney suggests that more, bigger
studies are needed to substantiate the research hypothesis that white rice
increases the chances of getting type 2 diabetes.