High-Glycemic Index Carbs May Pose Greater Type 2 Risk to Chinese and African-American Women

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African-American and Chinese women who eat foods that are high on the glycemicindex may carry a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes, according to tworecent university studies.

(The glycemic index ranks carbohydrates according to how fast the body convertsthem into glucose. Simple carbohydrates that are high on the index, such aswhite rice and potatoes, can cause blood sugar to rise rapidly. Carbohydratesranking lower on the index, such as lentils and high-fiber grains, are moregradually absorbed and converted by the body.)

In the study of African-American women, Boston University School of PublicHealth began tracking the food consumption and health habits of 40,078 women in1995. The study followed up with the women every two years thereafter, through2003, with questions about their diet, health, and weight.

By 2003, 1,938 of the women had developed type 2 diabetes. Researchers concludedthat women who had diets rich in high-glycemic index foods had a higher risk fordiabetes. However, they also found that women who ate a diet high in cerealfiber considerably reduced their risk of acquiring type 2. For example, theysaid that consistently eating a cup of bran cereal with raisins (5 to 8 grams offiber) or oatmeal (4 grams) at breakfast rather than a cup of Corn Chex (0.5grams) or Rice Chex (0.3 grams) corresponded to a 10 percent reduction in risk.

High Rice Consumption Increases Risk

The other study, conducted by Vanderbilt University Medical Center, tracked64,227 women in Shanghai, China, starting in 2000. Researchers interviewed thewomen every two years about their physical activity and diets. By the end of thestudy, 1,608 women had developed type 2 diabetes, which the study said coincidedwith carbohydrate intake.

Researchers had divided the women into five groups, based on their carbohydrateintake. Women in the group with the highest intake (337.6 grams per day) had a28 percent higher risk of developing type 2 than women in the lowest intakegroup (263.5 grams per day). Women whose carbohydrate intake ended toward higherglycemic index foods such as bread, rice and noodles, also had an increasedrisk.

One of the most notable conclusions was that women who ate 300 grams or more ofrice per day were 78 percent more likely to develop type 2 than women whose riceconsumption was fewer than 200 grams per day.

Vanderbilt researcher Dr. Raquel Villegas, Ph.D., said that because a large partof the world's population consumes rice as a dietary mainstay, the linkagebetween the intake of refined carbohydrates and increased risk of type 2 hassubstantial implications for public health.

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