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expert reaction to study looking at markers of dairy fat consumption and type 2 diabetes

Research published in PLOS Medicine demonstrates that higher circulating and tissue concentrations of fats commonly associated with dairy consumption are associated with a lower risk of type 2 diabetes.

 

Prof Tom Sanders, Professor emeritus of Nutrition and Dietetics, King’s College London, said:

“The biomarkers used here are not unique to dairy, and they also include oily fish.  Generally, from the body of evidence as a whole, it seems consistent that dairy may protect from metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes – but not butter.  This review should not be used to advocate eating butter, especially as one large study the review looked at found butter increased insulin resistance compared with olive oil.”

 

Dr Nicola Guess, Lecturer, Department of Nutritional Science, King’s College London, said:

“These findings are in line with previous observational studies suggesting a link between dairy consumption and reduced risk of type 2 diabetes.  Although the use of a biomarker is a strength of this study compared to self-reported food intake data, some caution is required: some of these biomarkers are not specific to dairy, and they can’t tell us precisely how much was consumed.  It is also not clear whether it is the dairy fat which could be behind the benefit, or the other nutrients contained in dairy foods (such as calcium, magnesium or even probiotics).

“There are previously-published controlled trials and observational studies where the data suggests that dairy foods can help reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes via a variety of mechanisms.  Currently, it’s not clear whether it makes much of a difference whether a person chooses high or low-fat versions of dairy foods.  My advice would be to choose the type a person enjoys most – dairy contains an abundance of nutrients important to health (some of which are lacking in the UK diet).”

 

‘Fatty acid biomarkers of dairy fat consumption and incidence of type 2 diabetes: a pooled analysis of prospective cohort studies’ by Fumiaki Imamura et al. was published in PLOS Medicine at 19:00 UK time on Wednesday 10 October 2018. 

 

Declared interests

Prof Tom Sanders: “Honorary Nutritional Director of HEART UK.  Scientific Governor of the British Nutrition Foundation.  He is now emeritus but when he was doing research at King’s College London, the following applied: Tom does not hold any grants or have any consultancies with companies involved in the production or marketing of sugar-sweetened drinks.  In reference to previous funding to Tom’s institution: £4.5 million was donated to King’s College London by Tate & Lyle in 2006; this funding finished in 2011.  This money was given to the College and was in recognition of the discovery of the artificial sweetener sucralose by Prof Hough at the Queen Elizabeth College (QEC), which merged with King’s College London.  The Tate & Lyle grant paid for the Clinical Research Centre at St Thomas’ that is run by the Guy’s & St Thomas’ Trust, it was not used to fund research on sugar.  Tate & Lyle sold their sugar interests to American Sugar so the brand Tate & Lyle still exists but it is no longer linked to the company Tate & Lyle PLC, which gave the money to King’s College London in 2006.  Tom also used to work for Ajinomoto on aspartame about 8 years ago.  Tom was a member of the FAO/WHO Joint Expert Committee that recommended that trans fatty acids be removed from the human food chain.  Tom has previously acted as a member of the Global Dairy Platform Scientific Advisory Panel and Tom is a member of the Programme Advisory Committee of the Malaysian Palm Oil Board.  In the past Tom has acted as a consultant to Archer Daniel Midland Company and received honoraria for meetings sponsored by Unilever PLC.  Tom’s research on fats was funded by Public Health England/Food Standards Agency.”

 Dr Nicola Guess: “None related to dairy.”

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