Healthy plant-based diet could reduce risk of developing type two diabetes by 24%

Research conducted by the Medical University of Vienna’s Center for Public Health has identified improvements in metabolism, and liver and kidney function, when a healthy plant-based diet is consumed. The study, led by Dr Tilman Kühn, Professor of Public Health Nutrition at Medical University Vienna and the University of Vienna, found that a healthful plant-based diet reduces the risk of diabetes by 24%, even in the presence of a genetic predisposition and other diabetes risk factors such as obesity, advanced age and lack of physical activity.

What did the study involve?

The research, published in the Diabetes & Metabolism journal, involved 113,097 participants, aged 40 to 69 years, in a large-scale British cohort study (UK Biobank​) over an observation period of twelve years. Associations between healthful and unhealthful plant-based indices (hPDI and uPDI)​ and type two diabetes risk were analysed by multivariable Cox regression models, followed by causal mediation analyses to investigate which cardiometabolic risk factors explained the observed associations.

Of 113,097 study participants 2,628 developed type two diabetes over 12 years. Participants with the highest hPDI scores, had a 24% lower risk of developing type two diabetes. This association was mediated by a lower BMI, lower waist circumference and lower concentrations of HBA1c (average blood glucose). Higher uPDI scores were associated with a 37% higher risk of developing type two diabetes, with higher waist circumference, higher BMI and higher concentrations of triglycerides potentially playing mediating roles.