'Egg-cess' consumption linked to diabetes
The health benefits of the humble egg might not be all they’re cracked up to be, as a longitudinal study conducted by the University of South Australia (UniSA), China Medical University and Qatar University has shown that excess egg consumption increased the risk of diabetes in Chinese adults.
As noted by UniSA’s Dr Ming Li, changes to the traditional Chinese diet are impacting health. And with the prevalence of diabetes in China now exceeding 11% — above that of the global average of 8.5% — diabetes has become a serious public health concern.
“Diet is a known and modifiable factor that contributes to the onset type 2 diabetes, so understanding the range of dietary factors that might impact the growing prevalence of the disease is important,” Dr Li said.
“Over the past few decades China has undergone a substantial nutritional transition that’s seen many people move away from a traditional diet, comprising grains and vegetables, to a more processed diet that includes greater amounts of meat, snacks and energy-dense food.
“At the same time, egg consumption has also been steadily increasing; from 1991 to 2009, the number of people eating eggs in China nearly doubled [from 16 grams to 31 grams].
“While the association between eating eggs and diabetes is often debated, this study has aimed to assess people’s long-term consumption of eggs and their risk of developing diabetes, as determined by fasting blood glucose.”
The scientists’ longitudinal study (1991 to 2009) was the first to assess egg consumption in a large sample of Chinese adults (over 8500 participants, with an average age of 50 years), with the results published in the British Journal of Nutrition. Dr Li revealed that higher long-term egg consumption (greater than 38 grams per day) increased the risk of diabetes by approximately 25%, while those who regularly ate one or more eggs per day (≥50 grams) had an increased risk of diabetes by 60%. The effect was also more pronounced in women than in men.
Dr Li said that while these results suggest that higher egg consumption is positively associated with the risk of diabetes in Chinese adults, more research is needed to explore causal relationships.
“To beat diabetes, a multifaceted approach is needed that not only encompasses research, but also a clear set of guidelines to help inform and guide the public,” she said. “This study is one step towards that long-term goal.”
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