European Association for the Study of Diabetes
European Association for the Study of Diabetes
Perspective from Robert W. Lash, MD
September 16, 2014
2 min read

Diabetes risks decreased with increased high-fat dairy intake

Perspective from Robert W. Lash, MD
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People who consume high amounts of high-fat dairy products have a lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes, according to research presented at the annual meeting of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes in Vienna, Austria.

The protective effect was not seen with low-fat dairy products, and meat intake was associated with a higher risk for type 2 diabetes, suggesting that fats specific to dairy products could be key in preventing the disease, researchers believe.

“Our observations may contribute to clarifying previous findings regarding dietary fats and their food sources in relation to type 2 diabetes,” Ulrika Ericson, PhD, of the Lund University Diabetes Center, Malmö, Sweden, said in a press release. “The decreased risk at high intakes of high-fat dairy products, but not of low-fat dairy products, indicate that dairy fat, at least partly, explains observed protective associations between dairy intake and type 2 diabetes.”

Ericson and colleagues looked at 26,930 adults aged 45 to 74 years (60% women) from the population-based Malmö Diet and Cancer cohort to examine the relationships between dietary fat sources and type 2 diabetes.

Dietary data had been collected using a modified diet history method, and within 14 years of follow-up, 2,860 cases of type 2 diabetes were identified. The researchers used multivariate Cox proportional hazards regression to estimate diabetes incidence in quintiles, divided by energy-adjusted dietary intakes ranging from highest (8 portions/day) to lowest (1 portion/day). Adjustments were made for age, sex, season, diet assessment method version, total energy intake, BMI, leisure time physical activity, smoking, alcohol consumption and education.

High intake of high-fat dairy products was associated with lower incidence of type 2 diabetes (highest vs. lowest quintile, HR=0.77; 95% CI, 0.68-0.87). Intake of specific high-fat dairy foods including cream and high-fat fermented milk demonstrated inverse associations with type 2 diabetes risk (P<.01).

An association was observed between high intake of low-fat dairy products and higher type 2 diabetes risk (P for trend=.01) but disappeared after adjusting for protein intake (P for trend=.37).

High intake of meat and meat products was associated with increased type 2 diabetes risk, regardless of fat content (high-fat meat, P for trend=.04 and low-fat meat, P for trend<.001). The highest quintiles consumed at least 90 g/day of high-fat meat and at least 80 g/day of low-fat meat.

“Our findings suggest that in contrast to animal fats in general, fats specific to dairy products may have a role in prevention of type 2 diabetes,” Ericson said.

For More Information: Ericson U. Abstract 62. Presented at: EASD 2014; Sept 16-19; Vienna, Austria.

Disclosures: This research was supported by the Swedish Research Council, Novo Nordisk Foundation and Swedish Diabetes Foundation.