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expert reaction to study looking at healthy plant-based versus less healthy plant-based diets and type 2 diabetes

A study published in Diabetes & Metabolism suggests that a healthy plant-based diet is associated with lower type-2 diabetes risk.


Dr Duane Mellor, Registered Dietitian and Senior Lecturer, Aston Medical School, Aston University, said:

“This is an interesting analysis of the UK BioBank which used limited dietary data from only 206 different food types from single day food intakes.  This has led the authors to claim high quality plant-based diets are beneficial for type 2 diabetes prevention.  This study was an observational study and cannot be certain of causality, only that this dietary pattern high in fruit, vegetables, legumes and wholegrain was associated with a reduced risk of developing type 2 diabetes.  What was interesting was the analysis which looked at aspects of liver health and other measures of inflammation and explored how they might be linked to diet and risk of developing type 2 diabetes.  This suggests a number of possible designs for future research to actually assess if this type of plant based diet can actually reduce risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

“This study also does not provide evidence that switching to this type of diet will directly reduce your risk of developing type 2 diabetes – it has been shown in previous diabetes prevention studies that these types of healthy diet with physical activity and weight management can reduce an individual’s risk of developing type 2 diabetes.”


‘A healthful plant-based diet is associated with lower type 2 diabetes risk via improved metabolic state and organ function: A prospective cohort study’ by Alysha S. Thompson et al. was published in Diabetes & Metabolism at 00:01 UK time on Wednesday 20 December 2023.

DOI: 10.1016/j.diabet.2023.101499


Declared interests

Dr Duane Mellor: “No conflicts of interest.”


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