N° 11 | April 2007

Nutritional life-style and Diabetes


Diabetes mellitus (type II) has become a significant threat to public health worldwide: it has been estimated that at least 171 million people are affected and it is assumed that by 2030 this figure will have more than doubled to 366 million people. While the developing countries will experience the highest burden, the impact in the developed countries is also considerable. Reasons for the continuing rise in the diabetes prevalence include the rising life expectancy and aging of populations, the increasing prevalence of obesity and associated life-style factors of low physical activity and inappropriate diet. The latter refers to both the quantitative and qualitative aspects of eating behaviour. In this context, one issue of ongoing research interest is the question about the role of a high intake of fruits and vegetables in diabetes prevention. Current research results from both observational and experimental research clearly show that life-style changes – increased physical activity and improved diet – are able to substantially reduce diabetes incidence. However, the independent effect of a diet rich in fruits and vegetables have not been convincingly demonstrated. This issue of the IFAVA newsletter highlights the present research findings on this issue in the article “The role of fruits and vegetables in diabetes” by K. Hoy.

The underlying mechanisms linking fruit and vegetable intake to diabetes risk include improved weight control, and increased fibre and antioxidant intake. Carotenoids have been considered to play a crucial role in this context, as outlined by M. Schulze in the next article of this issue “Carotenoids and the development of type 2 diabetes”. Finally, BMI and the development of overweight and obesity during the life course are an inevitable topic when talking about diabetes prevention. In the third article of this issue A. Schienkiewitz focuses in “BMI history and risk of type 2 diabetes” on the importance of a life-long weight maintenance.

See next article