Skip to content
My WebMD Sign In, Sign Up

Diabetes Health Center

Font Size
A
A
A

Dairy Foods May Help Prevent Diabetes

Study Shows Women Who Ate Low-Fat Dairy Products Were Less Likely to Develop Type 2 Diabetes
By
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

July 11, 2006 -- A diet rich in low-fat dairy products may cut a woman's risk of developing type 2 diabetes, a new study shows.

The report, published in the journal Diabetes Care, comes from researcher Simin Liu, MD, ScD, and colleagues. Liu works at the Harvard School of Public Health, Boston's Brigham and Women's Hospital, and UCLA.

Liu's team didn't directly test dairy products for diabetes prevention, and they're not making any recommendations just yet. But the researchers noticed that over a decade, middle-aged women were less likely to be diagnosed with type 2 diabetes if they frequently ate dairy products.

In fact, each additional daily dairy serving was associated with a 4% drop in diabetes risk, the researchers note.

Diabetes Data

Liu and colleagues analyzed data from the Women's Health Study, which included more than 37,000 female health professionals (average age: mid-50s). At the study's start, none had diabetes.

The women completed surveys about their eating habits. The questionnaires covered approximately 130 foods and beverages, including skim milk, whole milk, yogurt, sherbet, cottage cheese, ice cream, cheese, cream cheese, and sour cream.

The surveys also asked about the use of supplements containing calcium and vitamin D.

Other data covered BMI (body mass index), smoking status, alcohol use, exercise, other dietary factors (such as fiber consumption), use of postmenopausal hormone therapy, and family history of diabetes.

Diabetes & Dairy

The women were followed for a decade, on average. During that time, a total of 1,603 women were diagnosed with diabetes.

Women with the highest dietary calcium intake were about 20% less likely to be diagnosed with type 2 diabetes than the ones who consumed the least amount of calcium.

Adjusting for diabetes risk factors didn't change the results, the researchers note. They add that the findings were stronger for low-fat dairy products than for high-fat dairy items.

Diabetes often goes undiagnosed. But in this study, 85% to 90% of the women got blood glucose (sugar) screenings for diabetes, which should have reduced the likelihood of undiagnosed diabetes cases, write Liu and colleagues.

Is This Normal? Get the Facts Fast!

Check Your Blood Sugar Level Now
What type of diabetes do you have?
Your gender:

Get the latest Diabetes newsletter delivered to your inbox!


or
Answer:
Low
0-69
Normal
70-130
High
131+

Your level is currently

If the level is below 70 and you are experiencing symptoms such as shaking, sweating or difficulty thinking, you will need to raise the number immediately. A quick solution is to eat a few pieces of hard candy or 1 tablespoon of sugar or honey. Recheck your numbers again in 15 minutes to see if the number has gone up. If not, repeat the steps above or call your doctor.

People who experience hypoglycemia several times in a week should call their health care provider. It's important to monitor your levels each day so you can make sure your numbers are within the range. If you are pregnant always consult with your health care provider.

Congratulations on taking steps to manage your health.

However, it's important to continue to track your numbers so that you can make lifestyle changes if needed. If you are pregnant always consult with your physician.

Your level is high if this reading was taken before eating. Aim for 70-130 before meals and less than 180 two hours after meals.

Even if your number is high, it's not too late for you to take control of your health and lower your blood sugar.

One of the first steps is to monitor your levels each day. If you are pregnant always consult with your physician.

Did You Know Your Lifestyle Choices
Affect Your Blood Sugar?

Use the Blood Glucose Tracker to monitor
how well you manage your blood sugar over time.

Get Started

This tool is not intended for women who are pregnant.

Start Over

Step:  of 

Today on WebMD

Woman holding cake
Slideshow
feet
Slideshow
 
man organizing pills
Slideshow
Close up of eye
Slideshow
 

Woman serving fast food from window
Video
Can Vinegar Treat Diabetes
Video
 
Middle aged person
Tool
are battery operated toothbrushes really better
Video
 

Prediabetes How to Prevent Type 2 Diabetes
Article
type 2 diabetes
Slideshow
 
food fitness planner
Tool
Are You at Risk for Dupuytrens Contracture
Article
 

WebMD Special Sections