Women predisposed to gestational diabetes who followed a healthy diet after pregnancy reduced their risk for developing type 2 diabetes, according to data from an NIH-supported study.
“Our findings indicate that women with gestational diabetes aren’t necessarily preordained to develop type 2 diabetes,” researcher Cuilin Zhang, MD, PhD, of the epidemiology branch of the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, said in a press release. “It appears they may have some degree of control. Sticking to a healthy diet may greatly reduce their chances for developing diabetes later in life.”
The researchers applied healthful dietary patterns, including the alternate Mediterranean diet (aMED), Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) and alternate Healthy Eating Index (aHEI), to 4,413 patients with a history of gestational diabetes in the ongoing Nurses’ Health Study II.
Of those who adhered to the dietary patterns most effectively (quartile 4), BMI was lower, they consumed more alcohol and total calories from carbohydrates, were less likely to be smokers and to have a parental history of diabetes, the researchers wrote.
Subsequently, 491 patients (11.1%) developed type 2 diabetes during 16 years of observation, they said.
“Our findings suggest that reaching out to women who have had gestational diabetes on the importance of a healthy diet might significantly reduce the overall rate of type 2 diabetes,” Deirdre K. Tobias, ScD, research fellow in the department of nutrition at Harvard School of Public Health, said in the press release.
According to data, the aMED dietary pattern was associated with a 40% lower risk for type 2 diabetes (HR=0.60; 95% CI, 0.44-0.82) when compared with the highest adherence group. The DASH pattern was linked to a 46% lower risk for type 2 diabetes (HR=0.54; 95% CI, 0.39-0.73), and the aHEI pattern was associated with a 57% lower risk for type 2 diabetes (HR=0.43; 95% CI, 0.31-0.59) compared with those with the highest adherence, the researchers wrote.
The researchers suggest women with a history of gestational diabetes undertake a healthy dietary pattern to reduce their risk for type 2 diabetes.
Disclosure:See the study for a full list of disclosures.