More plants in diet translate to less diabetes, weight
Young adults who follow a plant-based, high-quality diet are less likely to develop diabetes and gain weight through middle age, according to data from the Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults (CARDIA) study.
The researchers followed individuals aged 18–30 years enrolled in 1985–1986 (baseline) through 2015–2016. They analysed the change in plant-centred diet quality over 20 years in relation to the following metabolic outcomes: diabetes (n=2,534), body mass index (BMI; n=2,436), waist circumference (WC; n=2,434), and weight (n=2,439). Diet quality was measured using the A Priori Diet Quality Score (APDQS), where a higher score indicated a diet rich in nutritionally plant foods.
Over a mean follow-up of 9.3 years, 206 participants developed diabetes. Changes in APDQS over 20 years were negatively associated with changes in WC, BMI, and weight.
In multivariable Cox regression models, the risk of incident diabetes was 48 percent lower among participants with the largest increase in APDQS over 20 years than among those whose score remained stable (hazard ratio, 0.52, 95 percent confidence interval, 0.31–0.85; p<0.001).
Furthermore, each 13-point increment in APDQS over 20 years was associated with lower gains in BMI (−0.39 kg/m2; p=0.004), WC (−0.90 cm; p<0.001), and weight (−1.14 kg; p<0.001) during the same period but not with subsequent changes.
The findings highlight the possibility that eating a plant-based diet can stave off early risk of type 2 diabetes and obesity.