Determinants of glycated haemoglobin in the general population: associations with diet, alcohol and cigarette smoking

Eur J Clin Nutr. 2001 Jul;55(7):615-23. doi: 10.1038/sj.ejcn.1601233.


Objective: We evaluated cigarette smoking, alcohol intake and consumption of different foods as determinants of glycated haemoglobin in a general population sample.

Design: Cross-sectional survey.

Setting: England.

Subjects: Representative sample of 15 809 adults aged 16 y and older. Data analysed for 9772 non-diabetic, white European subjects.

Main outcome measures: Glycated haemoglobin (GHb). Analyses were adjusted for age, sex, body mass index (BMI), waist-hip circumference ratio, activity level, and educational attainment.

Results: After adjusting for confounding, GHb was 0.277% (95% confidence interval 0.218 to 0.336) higher in current smokers of 20 or more per day, compared with non-smokers. GHb was 0.189% (0.101 to 0.277) lower in those drinking 42 or more units of alcohol per week than in non-drinkers. GHb was not associated with frequency of consumption of pulses, fruit, vegetables and salads, cakes, bread or confectionery. GHb was higher in subjects who took sugar in tea (0.051%, 0.015 to 0.087%) or in coffee (0.069%, 0.034 to 0.105%). GHb was higher in subjects who used solid fat for cooking (0.082%, 0.022 to 0.142%), or who drank whole rather than reduced-fat milk (0.088%, 0.036 to 0.140%), or used butter or hard margarine rather than low-fat spreads (0.075%, 0.029 to 0.121%).

Conclusions: In the general population, higher GHb may be associated with cigarette smoking, or frequent consumption of fat-containing foods. Consumption of alcohol may be associated with lower GHb.

Sponsorship: None.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Alcohol Drinking / blood*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / blood
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / etiology
  • Diet Surveys
  • Diet*
  • Dietary Fats / blood
  • Female
  • Glycated Hemoglobin A / analysis*
  • Humans
  • Insulin Resistance
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Smoking / blood*


  • Dietary Fats
  • Glycated Hemoglobin A