The British Medical Journal has published the results of a prospective cohort study that aimed to assess how a Mediterranean diet affects the incidence of diabetes among initially healthy participants. This study has been reported in the general media (BBC).
The study involved 13,380 Spanish university graduates without diabetes at baseline followed up for a median of 4.4 years. Dietary habits were assessed by questionnaire. Over the period of the study 103 participants self reported a diagnosis of type 2 diabetes and of these new cases 33 cases were confirmed. The biggest reasons for non-inclusion were gestational diabetes and failure to complete an additional medical report.
Individuals who adhered closely to a Mediterranean diet had a lower risk of diabetes. After correction for age and gender, those with moderate adherence to the diet had an incidence ratio of 0.41 (95% CI 0.19-0.87) and those with the highest adherence had a ratio of 0.17 (95% CI 0.04-0.75).
The study does have some limitations, firstly the participants were all university graduates and average age was low in comparison to the typical age at diagnosis of type 2 diabetes.
Action: Larger and longer studies are required to confirm this finding however clinicians should already be strongly advising patients, especially those with diabetes, on the virtues of a Mediterranean diet due to the protection it confers against coronary heart disease.
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