Higher levels of biomarkers of dairy fat consumption are associated with a lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes, according to new research published today in PLOS Medicine. The study, in more than 60,000 adults, was undertaken by an international consortium led by scientists at the Medical Research Council Epidemiology Unit, University of Cambridge, and the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University.
International nutritional guidelines commonly recommend regular consumption of dairy products as an important source of key nutrients, and in high-income countries, eating low-fat dairy products is encouraged as part of overall recommendations to limit saturated fat consumption. In some research, consumption of dairy products, in particular yoghurt and cheese, has been associated with a lower incidence of type 2 diabetes. But these findings are inconsistent and the evidence remains controversial.
The FORCE Consortium was established by researchers from Europe, North America, Australia, and Asia to examine the relationships of fatty acid biomarkers with diseases. Biomarkers are tell-tale molecules in the body that can be measured accurately and consistently, and act as indicators of dietary consumption.
Concentrations in body tissue of certain types of fat have been found to correlate with consumption of fat rich dairy foods, both in self-reported studies and in intervention studies where participants eat a controlled diet. These biomarkers of dairy fat offer a complementary approach, alongside self-reporting of food consumption, to investigate associations of dairy fat consumption with type 2 diabetes in large populations.