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04-01-2010 | Diabetes | Article

High animal protein consumption increases risk for Type 2 diabetes


Free abstract

MedWire News: Study results show that diets with a high animal protein component are associated with an increased risk for Type 2 diabetes.

“This finding indicates that accounting for protein content in dietary recommendations for diabetes prevention may be useful,” say researchers.

Ivonne Sluijs (University Medical Center Utrecht, The Netherlands) and team carried out a prospective cohort study of 38,094 participants of the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition – The Netherlands (EPIC-NL) study. The participants were aged 49 years on average at baseline and were followed up for 10 years.

Protein intake was assessed using a validated food frequency questionnaire at baseline, and the investigators verified cases of incident Type 2 diabetes by checking medical records.

The mean protein intake of the cohort was 75.7 g/day, most of which was accounted for by animal protein.

The main contributors to animal protein were meat (39%), milk or its products (29%), and cheese (18%). The main vegetable protein contributors were bread (43%), fruit and vegetables (14%), and potatoes (9%).

The participants were divided into quartiles of protein intake with the lowest quartile having a mean intake of animal and vegetable protein of 35.2 and 27.0 g/day, respectively, and the highest quartile a corresponding intake of 62.9 and 26.9 g/day.

Compared with individuals in the lowest quartile of protein intake, those in the highest quartile had a significant 2.15-fold increased risk for developing Type 2 diabetes over the study period. When animal protein alone was considered, there was still a significant 2.18-fold increased risk for developing Type 2 diabetes. Of note, vegetable protein alone was not related to incident Type 2 diabetes.

“The consumption of energy from protein, at the expense of the same percentage of energy from either fat or carbohydrate, increased diabetes risk by around 30%,” write Sluijs et al.

“More research into the effect of total protein intake in different populations with intakes of protein from different sources is needed to establish the effects of total protein intake and differing sources on diabetes risk,” they conclude in the journal Diabetes Care.

MedWire ( is an independent clinical news service provided by Current Medicine Group, a trading division of Springer Healthcare Limited. © Springer Healthcare Ltd; 2010

By Helen Albert