Taiwanese Vegetarians and Omnivores: Dietary Composition, Prevalence of Diabetes and IFG


The diabetes epidemic in Asia and particularly in China emerged simultaneously with increased meat consumption and higher proportion of energy intake from animal protein and fat [1]. Compared with Westerners, Asians tend to incur diabetes at a younger age and at a lower body mass index (BMI), possibly due to genetic susceptibility in combination with environmental exposures [2]. Vegetarian diets have been associated with a lower prevalence [3] and incidence [4] of diabetes among Seventh day Adventists. Previous clinical trials have shown vegetarian diets improve glycemic control [5] and insulin sensitivity [6]. Although several small studies reported lower glucose level and better insulin sensitivity in Taiwanese vegetarians than omnivores [7][9], no study thus far has examined whether a vegetarian diet protects against diabetes in Chinese ethnic Asian population, a high risk population that may incur diabetes despite having a normal BMI value [2]. Moreover, Asian diets tend to be lower in meat and higher in plant foods compared with Western diet. It remains unknown whether a diet completely avoiding meat and fish would further extend the protective effect of a plant-based diet. In addition, most studies on Asian vegetarians tend to compare vegetarians from religious groups with omnivores from the general population [7]. Religious and spiritual practices (a main determinant of vegetarian dietary practice in Asia) may be associated with social and emotional support which may confound health outcomes [10], [11].


We found a strong protective association between Taiwanese vegetarian diet and diabetes/IFG, after controlling for various potential confounders and risk factors.

The full study report can be found here.



Type of vegetarian diet, obesity and diabetes in adult Indian population

…vegetarianism in India is associated with unique characteristics. It is usually a lifelong pattern and adherence crosses multiple generations; it generally comprises high consumption of whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds and dairy with spices and seasonings unique to the Indian diet. Hence, the combination/or the pattern of vegetarian diet may yield different findings than similar studies conducted in the West and it is thus possible to assess dietary associations with chronic diseases which have been difficult in the West due to low frequency. This study uses data from the third National Family Health Survey (NFHS-3, 2005–06), a survey of 109,041 Indian households which collected information on a wide range of dietary, societal, lifestyle, and environmental determinants of morbidity and chronic ailments including diabetes [16]. The NFHS-3 provides a unique opportunity to examine associations between types of vegetarian diet and diabetes and obesity in a large, nationally representative sample.

In this large, nationally representative sample of Indian adults, lacto-, lacto-ovo and semi-vegetarian diets were associated with a lower likelihood of diabetes. These findings may assist in the development of interventions to address the growing burden of overweight/obesity and diabetes in Indian population. However, prospective studies with better measures of dietary intake and clinical measures of diabetes are needed to clarify this relationship.

Interesting study with limitations as noted by the researchers.  Go here for the full study report.

Vegan Diet Rapidly Improves Type 2 Diabetes Markers in Adults

The 16-week randomized controlled trial in 73 adults showed that participants who ate a diet of vegetables, grains, legumes, and fruits significantly improved their overall metabolic condition, say Hana Kahleova, MD, PhD, of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine in Washington, DC, and colleagues.

Small RCT study.  Source article here.

5 Classifications of Diabetes Proposed

  1. Severe autoimmune diabetes (formerly type 1 diabetes): affected 6% of patients in the derivation cohort; characteristics include early-onset disease, relatively low BMI, and GADA-positive
  2. Severe insulin-deficient diabetes: 18% of patients; GADA-negative but similar to cluster 1; lowest HOMA2-B scores
  3. Severe insulin-resistant diabetes: 15%; higher HOMA2-IR scores
  4. Mild obesity-related diabetes: 22%; obese, but not insulin resistant
  5. Mild age-related diabetes: 39%; older than other clusters, but largely similar to cluster 4

Quoted from  NEJM Journal Watch.


Heavy Drinking ‘Strongest’ Modifiable Risk Factor for Dementia

The retrospective analysis involving 30 million people in France shows that those with a history of alcohol use disorders had a threefold increased risk for dementia and that over half those with early-onset dementia had a history of alcohol problems. “This study used a phenomenally large database, and the result showing that half the cases of early-onset dementia were associated with alcohol use disorders is truly staggering,” Ballard told Medscape Medical News.

The researchers used diagnostic codes on hospital records to identify patients with dementia and those who had a history of alcohol use disorders. They found over a million cases of dementia, after excluding people with diseases that can lead to rare types of dementia and those with early-life mental disorders that can increase or confound dementia diagnosis. There were also 945,000 people with alcohol use disorders.

Results showed a strong association between a history of alcohol problems and dementia. This was especially noticeable in early-onset dementia, with 57% of the 57,000 patients who had developed dementia under the age of 65 years having a history of alcohol use disorders (66% of men and 37% of women).

In an analysis of just those patients in whom the first record of dementia occurred in 2011-2013 and adjusted for other risk factors found in the medical records, the risk for dementia was three times greater if the patient had a history of alcohol use disorders. The hazard ratio was 3.36 for men and 3.34 for women.

Read the Medscape article here.  Or get down and dirty with the full study here.

Be careful with interpreting these results.

France.  I’m not joking.  Here’s  a Global Consumption Map.



Light Exercise Helps Older Men Live Longer

Read the source article at this link.

The researchers report that any amount of physical activity, including light exercise, was linked to a lower risk of dying.

Also, each extra 30 minutes a day of light intensity activity, such as gentle gardening or taking the dog for a walk, was associated with a 17% reduction in the risk of dying.

Aerobic exercise may also slow cognitive decline  in Alzheimer’s according to a recent  literature review.

“Exercise can change the brain chemistry. It can change neurotransmitters associated with depression, anxiety and stress as well as brain chemicals associated with learning,” said Carol Ewing Garber, Director of the Applied Physiology Lab at Columbia University, Teachers College, in New York City, who wasn’t involved in the study. “These changes can result in improved mood, resilience to stress and improve functions of the brain such as processing speed, attention, short term memory and cognitive flexibility among other things.”