(CAMBRIDGE, Mass.) -- With every forkful of white rice you eat, your risk of type 2 diabetes could go up, according to an analysis published Friday in the British Medical Journal.
But don’t put the rice cooker away just yet. Other experts caution there may be only a grain of truth to this latest health warning.
Researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health compiled data from seven studies that followed 352,384 subjects for up to 22 years and kept track of what they ate using food questionnaires. The subjects came from all over the globe, with three of the studies done in Asia, three in the United States and one in Australia.
The results indicate that people in Asia who ate the most white rice were at the highest risk, showing a 55 percent increase in type 2 diabetes over other Asians who ate the least white rice.
But people everywhere were susceptible, as the risk of diabetes went up 11 percent for each additional serving of white rice eaten per day, according to the analysis.
In Asian countries where rice is a staple, this news could have widespread implications. But diet experts argue it’s not just the rice causing trouble there -- rather, a societal shift away from physical activity and toward increased food consumption may be to blame.
“White rice has long been a part of Asian diets in which diabetes risk was very low,” says Dr. David Katz, associate professor of public health at Yale University. “It is white rice plus aspects of modern living -- including less physical work -- that conspire to elevate the incidence of type 2 diabetes.”
The study authors acknowledge this, and note in their conclusion that, “this transition may render Asian populations more susceptible.”
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