A new study published in The Journal of Nutrition reported that high-fat dairy foods, high-fat milk, and total cheese were associated with a lower prediabetes incidence.

Prediabetes, the intermediate stage between normal glucose tolerance and type 2 diabetes, is increasing worldwide. Prevention is needed because a significant proportion of people with prediabetes will develop type 2 diabetes over time. Lifestyle modification is essential for effective prevention. Some studies show protective associations between dairy and prediabetes; however, these associations vary by the type and fat content of dairy foods. To bridge this knowledge gap, Slurink (Tilburg University) and colleagues examined the relationship between the consumption of dairy, including different types of dairy products, and prediabetes risk in participants of the Australian Diabetes, Obesity, and Lifestyle study, a longitudinal population-based study.

The study included 4891 participants with normal glucose tolerance and a mean age of 49 years. Dairy intake was measured at baseline using a food frequency questionnaire, and prediabetes at the 5-year and 12-year follow-up measurements was defined according to the World Health criteria as fasting blood glucose levels of 110-125 mg/dL or 2-hour blood glucose levels of 140-199 mg/dL.

In total, 765 incident cases of prediabetes were observed. The mean intake of dairy foods was 2.4 servings per day, consisting mostly of low-fat milk and high-fat milk. A higher intake of high-fat dairy, high-fat milk, and total cheese was associated with a lower risk of prediabetes. Low-fat milk intake was nonlinearly associated with prediabetes risk. Low-fat dairy foods, total milk, yogurt, low-fat cheese, and ice cream were not associated with prediabetes risk.

In this large Australian cohort, protective associations with prediabetes risk were found for high-fat dairy types, whereas neutral associations were seen for low-fat dairy types. Since associations with prediabetes risk vary by the dairy product type and fat content, dairy should not be regarded as a single product but as a diverse group of foods.  Future prospective studies should gather more detailed data regarding fat and sugar content of different types of dairy foods.


Slurink IAL, Chen L, Magliano DJ, Kupper N, Smeets T, Soedamah-Muthu SS. Dairy Product Consumption and Incident Prediabetes in the Australian Diabetes, Obesity, and Lifestyle Study With 12 Years of Follow-Up. The Journal of Nutrition, Volume 153, Issue 6, June 2023, Pages 1742-1752, doi.org/10.1016/j.tjnut.2023.03.032.

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