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Dairy 'lowers diabetes and high blood pressure risk'

Tuesday May 19th, 2020

Two daily servings of dairy products – especially full-fat ones – are linked to reduced risks of diabetes and high blood pressure, according to a major international analysis reported today.

The observational research, which analysed findings from the international Prospective Urban Rural Epidemiology (PURE) study, looked at countries that have not previously been studied for associations between dairy intake and diabetes, high blood pressure, and metabolic syndrome.

The health of nearly 190,000 participants – all aged between 35 and 70 and from 21 countries: Argentina, Bangladesh, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, India, Iran, Malaysia, Palestine, Pakistan, Philippines, Poland, South Africa, Saudi Arabia, Sweden, Tanzania, Turkey, United Arab Emirates and Zimbabwe – was tracked for an average of nine years.

The research involved examining 12 months of food frequency questionnaires, assessing dairy products – both full and low fat (1-2%) – such as milk, yogurt, yogurt drinks, cheese and dishes prepared with dairy products.

Butter and cream were assessed separately as these are not commonly eaten in some of the countries studied.

Information on personal medical history, use of prescription medicines, educational attainment, smoking and measurements of weight, height, waist circumference, blood pressure and fasting blood glucose were also collected.

Writing in BMJ Open Diabetes Research & Care, they researchers say that data on all five components of the metabolic syndrome were available for nearly 113,000 people: blood pressure above 130/85 mm Hg; waist circumference above 80cm; low levels of high density cholesterol (less than 1-1.3 mmol/l); triglycerides of more than 1.7 mmol/dl; and fasting blood glucose of 5.5 mmol/l or more.

Of the cohort, 46,667 people had metabolic syndrome, which was defined as having at least three of the five components.

The research team found that average daily total dairy consumption was 179g, with full fat accounting for about 124.5g and low fat about 65g.

They claimed total dairy and full-fat dairy were associated with a lower prevalence of most components of metabolic syndrome, with the size of the association greatest in those countries with normally low dairy intakes.

Their analysis showed that at least two servings a day of total dairy were associated with a 24% lower risk of metabolic syndrome, rising to 28% for full fat dairy alone, compared with no daily dairy intake.

During the average nine-year tracker, 13,640 people developed high blood pressure and 5351 developed diabetes, and the team says its figures suggest that at least two servings a day of total dairy was associated with an 11-12% lower risk of both conditions, rising to a 13-14% lower risk for 3 daily servings. The associations were stronger for full fat than they were for low fat dairy.

The researchers say because this is an observational study, they cannot establish cause and admit that there are limitations because food frequency questionnaires are subject to recall, and changes in metabolic syndrome were not measured over time, all of which may have influenced the findings.

Bhavadharini B, Dehghan M, Mente A et al. Research: Association of dairy consumption with metabolic syndrome, hypertension and diabetes in 147,812 individuals from 21 countries. BMJ Open Diabetes Research & Care 19 May 2020; doi 10.1136/bmjdrc-2019-000826

Tags: Asia | Diabetes | Diet & Food | Heart Health | South America | World Health

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