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14 Million Cases of Type 2 Diabetes Caused by Poor Diet

Junk food diabetes 2 poor diet
Unhealthy eating habits lead to Diabetes Type 2. Credit: Peg93 / Wikimedia Commons CC BY 3.0

A recent study has found that unhealthy eating habits and poor diet have led to more than 14.1 million new cases of Type 2 Diabetes globally. This represents over 70% of all newly diagnosed cases.

The research, which looked at data from 1990 to 2018, was published in the journal Nature Medicine. It provides valuable information about which dietary factors are contributing to the rising burden of type 2 diabetes across the world.

Interestingly, the study found that out of the 30 most populated countries analyzed, India, Nigeria, and Ethiopia had the lowest number of type 2 diabetes cases linked to poor diet.

Overall, this study highlights the need for individuals to pay attention to their dietary choices in order to reduce their risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

Factors Contributing to Type 2 Diabetes

The scientists conducting the study identified eleven different dietary factors that can contribute to type 2 diabetes. Out of these factors, three were found to have a significant impact on the rising number of cases worldwide.

The first factor is not consuming enough whole grains. The second is consuming too much refined rice and wheat. The third is eating too much processed meat. These three factors were found to be particularly problematic in terms of their contribution to the global incidence of type 2 diabetes.

The study discovered that certain dietary factors contribute more to the development of type 2 diabetes than others. It was discovered that drinking an excessive amount of fruit juice and not consuming an adequate amount of non-starchy vegetables, nuts, or seeds had less of an influence on new instances of the condition.

Dariush Mozaffarian, the senior author of the study said, “Our study suggests poor carbohydrate quality is a leading driver of diet-attributable type 2 diabetes globally, and with important variation by nation and over time.”

Mozaffarian further said, “These new findings reveal critical areas for national and global focus to improve nutrition and reduce devastating burdens of diabetes.”

Effects of Rise in Diabetes Type 2

According to the study, all 184 nations that were a part of the research experienced a rise in the number of instances of type 2 diabetes between the years 1990 and 2018. This represents an increasing burden on people, families, and healthcare systems.

The model used in this research was constructed using information obtained from the Global Dietary Database, population demographics, and data compiled from a number of previously published papers regarding the impact that individuals’ food choices have on those who are obese or have type 2 diabetes.

The analysis showed that poor diet contributes to a higher proportion of total type 2 diabetes incidence in men, younger adults, and urban residents globally.

Regions with the highest number of type 2 diabetes cases linked to diet were Central and Eastern Europe, Latin America, Central Asia, and the Caribbean, while South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa had lower impacts.

In spite of this, the region of Sub-Saharan Africa had the greatest growth in the prevalence of type 2 diabetes owing to inadequate nutrition between the years 1990 and 2018.

Warning About Deteriorating Health and Economy

The study’s first author, Meghan O’Hearn, warns that if left unchecked, type 2 diabetes will continue to affect population health, economic productivity, and healthcare system capacity, and increase health inequities worldwide. O’Hearn conducted the research while pursuing her Ph.D. at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University.

The study’s findings can help guide nutritional priorities for clinicians, policymakers, and private sector actors to promote healthier dietary choices and address the global epidemic of type 2 diabetes.

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