Many studies have investigated the relationship between dairy and type 2 diabetes (T2D). The Dutch Dairy Organization and FrieslandCampina Institute invited external experts to evaluate the current state of knowledge. A selected group of international scientific experts convened for a 2-day roundtable debate in November 2017.
On day 1 all scientific experts from different disciplines gave a presentation on a subarea of dairy and type 2 diabetes. On day 2 the experts jointly defined the relationship between type 2 diabetes and total dairy intake as well as specific dairy products. The discussions on day 2 were the basis of a scientific paper, which was published mid-2019: ‘The Impact of Dairy Products in the Development of Type 2 Diabetes: Where Does the Evidence Stand in 2019’ (1). All scientific experts present at the roundtable debate co-authored this paper. FrieslandCampina Institute interviewed the scientific experts about the conclusions from this paper.
What was concluded about dairy and type 2 diabetes?
‘It was concluded that total dairy consumption has a neutral or moderately beneficial association with T2D risk. For milk and cheese the association with T2D was also neutral. Yogurt was associated with a lower T2D risk. However, this needs to be further confirmed by randomized controlled intervention studies. Currently only 1 intervention study is available in a diseased population. This study in obese Chinese women with metabolic syndrome and a fatty liver showed that compared to milk, yoghurt improved insulin resistance (insulin resistance is a marker of T2D) (2).’
What was concluded about saturated fat, dairy and type 2 diabetes?
‘Scientific studies give mixed results on the association between saturated fatty acids and T2D. There are many different types of saturated fatty acids. Those different types have different effects on T2D. Furthermore, the whole food (i.e., the food matrix) in which the saturated fatty acids exist can be a stronger determinant of health than the total saturated fatty acid content.’
Are the conclusions of the scientific experts in line with the recommendations of the Dutch Health Council?
‘Yes, the conclusions are in line. The Dutch Health Council concludes that association between total dairy and the risk of T2D is neutral. For milk and cheese the association with T2D is unclear. For yogurt it is concluded that 60 g of yogurt or more per day is associated with 15% lower risk of diabetes compared to 10 grams a day (level of evidence: substantial).’
Are the conclusions of the scientific experts in line with the recommendations of Diabetes Federations?
The American Diabetes Association stated that ‘Whereas overall healthy low-calorie eating patterns should be encouraged, there is also some evidence that particular dietary components impact diabetes risk in observational studies. Higher intakes of nuts, berries, yogurt, coffee, and tea are associated with a lower risk of T2D. Conversely, red meats and sugar-sweetened beverages are associated with a higher risk of T2D (3).’
Scientific experts at the Roundtable: Prof D.I. Givens, Prof A. Astrup, Prof S.J.L. Bakker, Dr G.H. Goossens, Prof M. Kratz, Prof A. Marette, Prof H. Pijl, Dr. S.S. Soedamah-Muthu.
- Guo, J., Givens, D. I., Astrup, A., Bakker, S.J.L., Goossens, G. H., Kratz, M., Marette, A., Pijl, H. & Soedamah‐Muthu, S.S. (2019). The impact of dairy products in the development of type 2 diabetes: where does the evidence stand in 2019? Advances in Nutrition, 10(6), 1066-1075.
- Chen, Y., Feng, R., Yang, X., Dai, J., Huang, M., Ji, X., … & Pang, X. (2019). Yogurt improves insulin resistance and liver fat in obese women with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease and metabolic syndrome: a randomized controlled trial. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 109(6), 1611-1619.
- American Diabetes Association. (2019). 3. Prevention or delay of type 2 diabetes: Standards of Medical Care in Diabetes—2019. Diabetes Care, 42(Supplement 1), S29-S33.