Processed Meats and Excess Weight Shown to Increase Risk of Type 2 Diabetes in Men

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Eating processed meats such as hot dogs and bacon may increase a man’s risk of developing type 2 diabetes, according to researchers from the United States and Holland. On the other hand, eating polyunsaturated fat may decrease a person’s risk for type 2 diabetes, the researchers state in the March 2002 issue of Diabetes Care.

Frank B. Hu, MD, from the Harvard School of Public Health, and colleagues studied the effects of diet on 42,504 men ages 40 to 75 over a period of 12 years, from 1986 to 1998.

Men who ate processed meats five times a week or more increased their risk of developing type 2 diabetes by almost 50 percent. Those who ate processed meats two to four times a week increased their risk by 35 percent.

The researchers also found that those men who ate a diet rich in linoleic acid—a polyunsaturated fat found in sunflower, corn and soybean oil—decreased the risk of getting diabetes by 26 percent.

“Eating processed meats five times or more per week is where we saw the major difference,” Dr. Hu told the Associated Press. “The effect is dose related—the more you eat these foods, the higher the risk.”

Hu points out that the risk of diabetes may also be affected by the condiments and side dishes eaten with the meats, such as mayonnaise, potato chips and french fries.

The researchers note, however, that the association between eating higher amounts of total and saturated fats and type 2 diabetes disappeared after adjusting for body mass index (BMI)—body weight in relation to height—and they observed that men who ate larger amounts of saturated fat also had a higher BMI and a lower level of physical activity. They add that further research needs to explore why eating processed meats is associated with type 2 diabetes.

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