White rice as risky as white bread in causing diabetes

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Eating more white rice increases the risk of type 2 diabetes, especially for Asian populations.

Qi Sun, PhD, of Harvard, and colleagues, reported in BMJ that patients who ate the greatest amounts of the grain had a 27% greater risk of developing the disease than those who ate the least, and the relative risk was higher among Asian patients.

The glycemic index of white rice is higher than that of other whole grains, largely due to processing.

Sun and colleagues conducted a meta-analysis of four prospective cohort analyses in Asian and Western populations, totaling 352,384 patients with follow-up ranging from 4 to 22 years. During that time, there were 13,284 incident cases of type 2 diabetes. Asians generally had a higher level of white rice consumption than Western populations.

They also found a dose-response effect — with each increase in rice serving per day, risk of type 2 diabetes rose by 11% (95% CI 1.08 to 1.14, P<0.001).