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.

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.


My Wakelet

I’m playing with a new social sharing platform called Wakelet.  Click here for a local news article.

So what is Wakelet? It’s a web application that lets people, businesses and academic institutions organise links to online information into neatly-presented collections called ‘wakes’.

In a world of information overload, big data and real-time streams, search engines work hard to index the ever-growing amount of online information. While search algorithms help us find isolated pieces of information faster, they don’t know which ones are most relevant to us as individuals. Wakelet brings a human touch to this process by giving us the ability to easily collect and organise anything we read, view or listen to in a way that’s useful to us and to others.

Check out my diabetes Wakelet.  I’m toying with the idea of cataloguing the online articles I read rather than link one by one on the blog.  I started my wakes in November 2017 and we’ll see how it goes.  At first blush I don’t see this platform replacing my blogs.  But I think it may be useful for my followers to have one stop shopping for the fruits of my research.  Enjoy.

Abdominal Aortic Calcification Among Individuals With and Without Diabetes: The Jackson Heart Study

In the Jackson Heart Study (JHS), we examined the association of diabetes with abdominal aortic calcification (AAC) among African Americans. Among included individuals (n = 1,664), the mean age was 57 (± 11) years, 69% were female, and 18.3% had diabetes (based on fasting blood glucose [FBG], HbA1c, use of glucose-lowering medications, or physician diagnosis). The median AAC and coronary artery calcification (CAC) scores were 904.15 (interquartile range 0–1093.10) and 0 (0–96.19), respectively. The prevalence of any AAC or CAC was 69% and 49%, respectively. Individuals with diabetes were older, had higher BMI, had higher systolic blood pressure and prevalence of hypertension, had lower HDL levels, were less affluent or physically active, had poorer nutritional intake, and had higher levels of hs-CRP.

Source: Diabetes Care