Healthy plant-based diet could reduce risk of type 2 diabetes

Research conducted by the Center for Public Health at the Medical University of Vienna has identified improvements in metabolism as well as liver and kidney function when a healthy plant-based diet is consumed. The study, led by Dr. Tilman Kühn, professor of public health nutrition at the Medical University of Vienna and the University of Vienna, found that a healthy plant-based diet reduces the risk of diabetes by 24%, even in the presence of a genetic predisposition and other risk factors for diabetes such as obesity, advanced age and lack of physical activity.

What did the study consist of?

The research, published in the journal Diabetes & Metabolism, involved 113,097 participants, aged 40 to 69, in a large-scale UK cohort study (UK Biobank​) over a twelve-year observation period. Associations between healthy and unhealthy plant indices (hPDI and uPDI)​ and type 2 diabetes risk were analyzed by multivariate Cox regression models, followed by causal mediation analyzes to investigate which cardiometabolic risk factors explained the associations observed.

Of the 113,097 study participants, 2,628 developed type 2 diabetes over a 12-year period. Participants with the highest hPDI scores had a 24% lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes. This association was mediated by lower BMI, lower waist circumference, and lower HBA1c (mean blood glucose) concentrations. . Higher uPDI scores were associated with a 37% higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes, with higher waist circumference, higher BMI and higher triglyceride concentrations potentially playing a mediating role.

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