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Consuming white rice linked to risk of diabetes

This picture taken on September 29, 2011 shows a worker holding rice at the Asian Peninsula Corporation Limited factory in Bangkok. A new report finds that in both the West and in Asia, there is a link between eating white rice and type 2 diabetes.

David Brancaccio: In a large, global study, researchers have shown the more white rice people eat, the higher their chances of getting diabetes. Publishing in the British Medical Journal, researchers looked at four studies covering 350,000 people in Asia and the West.

Richard Evans, from the research group Diabetes UK joins us now from London. Hello, Mr. Evans.

Richard Evans: Hello.

Brancaccio: Would you call the link definite between white rice and diabetes type 2?

Evans: The short answer is no. This study has shown evidence that there is an association between consumption of white rice and your risk of developing type 2, but that's not the same thing as saying that it is the actual white rice that is causing the increased risk for type 2.

The evidence is not that clear -- and on the basis of that, we wouldn't recommend that people cut down on white rice in particular to reduce their risk of type 2. So we need to have some caution in how we interpret this and go back to those healthy lifestyle messages -- the same ones we hear day in and day out.

Brancaccio: Now the study in this case was about rice. Consumers and the food industry will be very interested to know if a link -- if it is confirmed -- extends to other simpler carbohydrates, like white flour, pasta. Do you think it's worth further study?

Evans: I think in terms of research into what causes type 2 diabetes, anything that adds to our understanding is a good thing. But we don't want to get ahead of ourselves, and this hasn't given any conclusive proof that white rice increases risk of type 2 diabetes. So we'd need to look more into that, before we could start broadening the horizons even further.

Brancaccio: Absolutely. Richard Evans from Diabetes UK. Thank you very much for this.

Evans: Thank you.

About the author

David Brancaccio is the host of Marketplace Morning Report. Follow David on Twitter @DavidBrancaccio

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