White Rice Increase Risks of Type 2 Diabetes

I am very Pinoy.  I love eating rice.  And it’s always white rice.  May extra rice pa!  However, recent study that was published in the British Medical Journal last March 2012 showed that eating white rice regularly raises the risk for type 2 diabetes.  The numbers says that a large bowl (5.6oz / 158g) of rice being consumed a day is associated with an 11 per cent increased risk.

The study was conducted by led by Emily Hu and Qi Sun of the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) research.  The researchers reviewed four earlier studies involving more than 352,000 people from China, Japan, the United States, and Australia who were tracked between four and 22 years.

The researchers found that people who ate about three to four servings of rice everyday were 1.5 times more likely to have diabetes.  The link was stronger for people in Asian countries, who eat an average of three to four servings of white rice per day.

White rice is the predominant type of rice eaten worldwide and has high GI values. High GI diets are associated with an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes.  White rice also lacks nutrients found in brown rice that may lower risk of diabetes, like fiber and magnesium.

The authors recommend eating whole grains instead of refined carbohydrates to help slow down the global diabetes epidemic.


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Jinoe Gavan is the founder of this award-winning blog Takbo.ph, The Filipino Running Community. Known as ManokanRunner, he is a computer addict on weekdays, a church leader on weekends and a runner in all days of the week. He wants to run and cover as many miles in many places as he could. Read more about his life in the urban jungle with all the distractions and the fun of raising his son in DaddyandtheCity(dot)com.


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Filed Under: Health and Nutrition, Training


  1. says

    Thank you from bringing this to the community’s attention. I come from the US where rice consumption is far lower than in the Philippines, and I’m amazed sometimes to see people prepare their plates here with as much food as I’d expect someone to typically eat AND an additional 2 cups of rice to boot. Not that Americans are in better shape, but the “demon” there is mostly soda, processed food and sweets consumption. My mother was a heavy soda drinker her whole life, so it wasn’t a shock when she developed Type 2 diabetes. And, yes, white rice was basically banned for her by her dietician.
    In the US, we are taught that fat people get diabetes; it’s caused by weight. Imagine my surprise, then, when we moved here an I began meeting so many skiny-miny people with type 2 diabetes! It’s not weight; it’s food choices! Sometimes food choices cause weight gain as well. Sometimes you live your life looking healthy, but your food choices are slowly destroying your pancreas’s ability to function and don’t know it until you end up diabetic.
    Many restos offer brown rice as an option. When we eat out and want rice, my husband and I will order one serving of white and one of brown and then each will eat half. You can barely tell the difference when you eat it half-and-half like that. You can do this yourself at home. Just make pot/rice cooker full of brown rice and have it in your ref to mix in with freshly prepared white rice through your day. Over time, you can eat more and more brown rice and less and less white rice until you’ve fully transitioned.
    But, of course, cutting back on the amount of rice you consume in general is also essential. Try opting to eat soup-style meals (like sinigang, or even calderetta) purely as soups consumed out of a bowl and not as rice toppings, and also leave rice out of your breakfast entirely. Just those two changes would dramatically reduce the amount of rice most people consume, and your risk for diabetes would drop sharply.
    People think diabetes isn’t a major deal these days, but my mother has lost three toes, is starting to go blind, and struggles with her energy levels. I had a student with a diabetic parent who lost both his feet and hands because of the disease. Both of them had access to proper medical care and managed their sugar levels well. The best treatment for diabetes starts with your behaviors now so you don’t even develop it all!

  2. glen says

    White rice is a staple food in the Philippines but when it comes to type 2 diabetis, I think the western world has more of it.

  3. airosivid says

    Nagpapaniwala kayo masyado dyan sa pag-aaral na yan. Ako malakas akong kumain ng kanin pero wala naman akong diabetes at hindi rin mabigat ang timbang ko nasa 120 lbs lang ako ang height ko ay nasa 5′ 7″. Regular ang check-up ko sa doctor. Araw-araw akong nagjojoging 21km a day, kailangan din kasi ng nagwowork-out ang white rice kasi yan yung nagbibigay sa atin ng so much energy sa isang araw. Kaya yang mga ganyang pag-aaral puro theory lang yan wala pa talagang matibay na ebidensya na nagpapatunay na white rice ang dahilan ng pagkakaroon ng diabetes.. Punong puno naman kayo ng guilty sa buhay.

  4. andrew says

    well, come to think of it, tama si airosivid. it’s all about being active. kasi pag kumain nga naman tayo ng kahit ano and active naman sa any sport siyempre ung katawan mo gagamitin as fuel ung food na kinakain natin so hindi ka magkakadiabetes nun. pero ako brown rice eater and i do running, swimming and crossfit. can’t imagine ung demand ng sport ko in terms of burning calories. but this is a good blog because it’s informative for both active and sedentary people. for the latter, i suggest the change of lifestyle a little.

  5. NOEL says

    A friend nurse once told me that medical studies are zero-sum games. Favorable medical studies often have adverse counterparts. White rice consumption and Type 2 diabetes correlation can be true but such is not cast on stone.

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