Rice consumption and diabetes was the topic of debate in the recently concluded Asia-Pacific Conference in Clinical Nutrition (APCCN) in Kuala Lumpur’ Malaysia on January 26-29, 2015.
Two clinical nutrition experts served as opposing speakers of the debate’
Yes, it is
Dr. Christiani Jeyakumar Henry from the United Kingdom presented the arguments that link white rice consumption to the rising prevalence of diabetes, particularly that Asia is the epicenter of Type 2 Diabetes (T2D)’
He also said that the Asian phenotype or body composition predisposes them to T2D. He then discussed several studies on the high glycemic response of white rice that contributes to T2D. Glycemic response is the change in blood glucose after consuming a carbohydrate-rich food.
No, its not rice alone
Dr. Shigeru Yamamoto from Japan presented opposite arguments saying that even though rice consumption has dramatically decreased, diabetes prevalence is still rising, specifically in their country.
Dr. Yamamoto said that rice cannot be blamed as long as everything is consumed in moderation. lt is the amount of rice that may need monitoring, Yamamoto further reiterated.
The high glycemic index of white rice came from the results of studies on post-prandial glucose or after-meal blood glucose response using a single food.
However, in daily life, people do not eat a single food but in combination with something else.
Moreover, Dr. Yamamoto said that the prevalence of obesity in Japan is low despite high carbohydrate intake and they have the highest life expectancy in the world.
Dr. Henry rebutted that Japan’s rice consumption is different from other Asians in the sense that while Japanese eat rice, the amount is nothing compared to how much more their neighboring countries do.
The Philippine scenario
In the Philippines, the 8th National Nutrition Survey (NNS) of the Food and Nutrition Research Institute of the Department of Science and Technology (FNRI-DOST) in 2013 showed that the individual rice consumption was 298 grams or about 1.5 cups daily.
Rice consumption in2013 was lower than the 2008 NNS which was 3’17 grams or a little more than 1.5 cups daily.
Moreover, diabetes prevalence at the national level based on a cut-off of 126 milligrams per deciliter is 5.1 percent in the 2013 NNS.
Diabetes prevalence in 2013 was higher than the 2008 prevalence at 4.8 percent. This trend was similar to what is being observed in Japan.
Promoting brown rice
Going back to the topic of debate: Is rice consumption causing the rise of diabetes in Asia?
In the end, Drs. Henry and Yamamoto concluded that the rising prevalence of diabetes cannot be blamed on a single food. It is not rice per se that is the issue’ but the kind and amount of rice, they further emphasized.
The FNRI-DOST has been promoting the consumption of brown rice, the kind that ts minimally processed, with its bran still intact. (PR)