Rice has been a staple food for 5,000 years, yet some new studies and news headlines suggest that each additional daily serving of it increases your risk of type 2 diabetes by 11 percent.

In the Nutritionfacts.org video below, Dr. Michael Greger reviews the research linking white rice consumption with the rise in type 2 diabetes, largely in Asian populations. The rate at which people in China and Japan are getting diabetes has skyrocketed in the past decade and is now very similar to the incidence in the United States. However, China has seven times less obesity and Japan has eight times less obesity than the United States. So what’s going on?

China’s Diabetes Rate Has More Than Tripled, But Their Obesity Rate Has Not

Looking at the data, Dr. Greger found that the rate of new type 2 diabetes diagnoses has sharply increased, while rice consumption has actually decreased by 30 percent. Pork, oil, and other meat consumption has sharply increased in the past 16 years.

If the rise in meat consumption is to blame, then why do recent studies in Japan and China associate white rice intake with diabetes? Dr. Greger theorizes that it’s the addition of animal protein. When ingested, carbohydrates cause a spike in blood glucose, triggering the pancreas to secrete insulin. Studies show that when animal protein is added to refined carbs, that blood sugar spike is much higher.

diabetes obesity asia

View Dr. Greger’s Sources:

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B M Popkin. S Du. Dynamics of the nutrition transition toward the animal foods sector in China and its implications: a worried perspective. J Nutr. 2003 Nov;133(11 Suppl 2):3898S-3906S.
I Muraki, F Imamura, J E Manson, F B Hu, W C Willett, R M van Dam, Q Sun. Fruit consumption and risk of type 2 diabetes: results from three prospective longitudinal cohort studies. BMJ. 2013 Aug 28;347:f5001.
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D Aune, T Norat, P Romundstad, L J Vatten. Whole grain and refined grain consumption and the risk of type 2 diabetes: a systematic review and dose-response meta-analysis of cohort studies. Eur J Epidemiol. 2013 Nov;28(11):845-58.
M A Kodach. In defence of white rice. BMJ. 2012 May 1;344:e3099.
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E S Eshak, H Iso, K Yamagishi, Y Kokubo, I Saito, H Yatsuya, N Sawada, M Inoue, S Tsugane. Rice consumption is not associated with risk of cardiovascular disease morbidity or mortality in Japanese men and women: a large population-based, prospective cohort study. Am J Clin Nutr. 2014 Jul;100(1):199-207.
E Q Ye, S A Chacko, E L Chou, M Kugizaki, S liu. Greater whole-grain intake is associated with lower risk of type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and weight gain. J Nutr. 2012 Jul;142(7):1304-13.
A Goto, M Goto, M Noda, S Tsugane, Incidence of type 2 diabetes in Japan: a systematic review and meta-analysis. PLoS One. 2013 Sep 6;8(9):e74699.
M Ng, T Fleming, M Robinson, B Thomson, N Graetz, C Margono, E C Mullany, S Biryukov, and more. Global, regional, and national prevalence of overweight and obesity in children and adults during 1980-2013: a systematic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2013. Lancet. 2014 Aug 30;384(9945):766-81.
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H Li, B Oldenburg, C Chamberlain, A O’Neil, B Xue, D Jolley, R Hall, Z Dong, Y Guo. Diabetes prevalence and determinants in adults in China mainland from 2000 to 2010: a systematic review. Diabetes Res Clin Pract. 2012 Nov;98(2):226-35.
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E A Hu, A Pan, V Malik, Q Sun. White rice consumption and risk of type 2 diabetes: meta-analysis and systematic review. BMJ 2012;344:e1454

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