Eating white rice ‘could raise your risk of type 2 diabetes’

By Jenny Hope

PUBLISHED: 18:31 EST, 15 March 2012 | UPDATED: 18:31 EST, 15 March 2012

The likelihood of developing type 2 diabetes could be increased by eating white rice, research suggests.

The more white rice people eat, the higher their chance of developing the condition, according to a review of four studies involving around 350,000 people.

The U.S.-led review looked at two studies from China and Japan and two from the U.S. and Australia.

Health warning: Eating white rice has been found to increase your risk of developing type 2 diabetesHealth warning: Eating white rice has been found to increase your risk of developing type 2 diabetes

Asian people tended to have a much higher intake of the food than those in the West, averaging three to four servings a day compared with one or two servings per week.

And they also had a greater risk of developing type 2 diabetes, with those who ate most at highest risk.

Researcher Dr Qi Sun, of the Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, said: ‘Each serving increment per day in white rice intake was associated with a small, yet significantly higher diabetes risk.

Unconcerned: Dietician Catherine Collins said that the risk was unlikely to be transferred to the West because of the low consumption of riceUnconcerned: Dietician Catherine Collins said that the risk was unlikely to be transferred to the West because of the low consumption of rice

‘It is probably fine to occasionally eat white rice, one or two servings per week, although the consumption seen in Asian countries will increase diabetes risk substantially.’

The link might be explained by the effect of white rice on blood sugar levels, as it is relatively high on the Glycaemic Index (GI), which measures how quickly glucose is released into the bloodstream after eating. Low GI foods such as brown rice break down slowly, which makes people feel fuller longer and keeps blood sugar levels more stable

White rice also has fewer nutrients, including fibre and magnesium, that may help prevent type 2 diabetes.

The review, published in the British Medical Journal, assessed a serving of rice as 158g, and took into account factors such as weight, exercise levels and diet of volunteers. During follow-up research, ranging from four to 22 years, around 13,200 people developed diabetes.

Catherine Collins, principal dietician at London’s St George’s Hospital, said increasing consumption of white rice among Asians might raise diabetes risk, but it was unlikely to be a risk transferred to the West.

This was not only because of a lower consumption in countries such as the UK, but also due to difference in diet and lifestyle.

Dr Iain Frame, director of research at Diabetes UK, said the review did not provide conclusive results.

Some 2.5million people in the UK have been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, and another 850,000 do not know they have it.


Posted on March 16, 2012, in Health / Medicine, Science / Technology and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. I am fascinated with the glycemic index. It has not gained popularity in the US as quickly as in Europe, Australia, and Canada. I recently authored an article on the glycemic index which will be available online in 2 to 3 months. I was planning on writing a post on the glycemic index in the near future, and if you would allow, I would like to provide a link to it in a future comment.

    Not only is white rice a hazard, potatoes and white bread are dangerous as well. My interest in the glycemic index arose from my interests in weight loss. There is evidence that following a low glycemic index diet can aid in weight loss as well as staving off chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes (as you have noted).

    The leading researchers in the glycemic index maintain a website at

    • Sure, you can provide your link or I can reblog it on my site if you would like. I have a question,do all whole grains have a lower glycemic index? Which carbohydrates would you recommend besides those that are naturally found in fruits and vegetables?

      • The glycemic index is basically a measure of how quickly blood glucose levels rise after consuming food. The number assigned as the GI of a food is based on the average of several individuals. In other words, if I ate a gram of white bread and you ate a gram of white bread, we would not necessarily have the same rate of increase of blood glucose. Individual biological factors play a role.

        There are certain factors that influence the rate of digestion and absorption of glucose. Yes, all whole grain products that do not undergo processing (or minimal processing) have a lower glycemic index, because enzymes have to “gain access” to the grains and digest it into, ultimately, glucose. Processed grains, like white flour, are easily digested, because there is no physical barrrier for the enzymes to reach the carbohydrates.

        However, not all is lost if you are a white bread loving, mashed potatoe eating fiend like I am. You can lower the GI of a meal with a few simple strategies. Acid slows stomach emptying (and consequently digestion), so eat a salad with a vinagrette dressing with dinner.

        Soluble viscous fiber “traps” food and therefore slows the release of glucose. Apples and oatmeal (not the instant kind) are a great source of viscous fiber. The addition of protein to a meal also lowers the GI. The GI of a meal is the weighted average of the GI of each of the constituemts of that meal.

        By no means do I follow a militant diet. But I have followed a few of these strategies and (along with a little more exercise) have seen my blood pressure drop and my energy level rise.

        I have tried to substitute pasta for potatoes or rice with some meals. Pasta (cooked al dente) has a medium glycemic index. Tthat is better than a high glycemic potatoe dish!

  2. Thanks for the advice on the several strategies individuals can implement in lowering the Glycemic index in their meals. Hopefully people in general will develop greater concern for their health, and implement healthy eating habits in order to reap the healthy benefits in their life.

  3. Fat Burning Sally

    It’s really a nice and helpful piece of information. I’m glad that you shared this useful info with us. Please keep us informed like this. Thank you for sharing.

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