Higher protein intake is associated with diabetes risk in South Asian Indians: the Metabolic Syndrome and Atherosclerosis in South Asians Living in America (MASALA) study

J Am Coll Nutr. 2010 Apr;29(2):130-5. doi: 10.1080/07315724.2010.10719826.


Objective: Despite a high prevalence of type 2 diabetes in South Asian Indians, the impact of diet in this high-risk ethnic group has not been fully explored. The association of macronutrient intake and diabetes in South Asian Indians was examined in this cross-sectional study.

Methods: A population-based cohort of 146 South Asian Indians aged 45-79 years without existing cardiovascular disease living in the San Francisco Bay Area was recruited between August 2006 and October 2007. Macronutrient intake was assessed with a food-frequency questionnaire developed and validated in South Asians. Diabetes was defined by use of a hypoglycemic medication, a fasting plasma glucose level > or =126 mg/dL, or a 2-hour post-challenge glucose level > or =200 mg/dL. The association between energy-adjusted macronutrient intake and diabetes was explored using multivariable logistic regression models.

Results: Forty-one (28%) participants had type 2 diabetes; 20 were unaware of this diagnosis and were classified as having diabetes by laboratory testing. In a model fully adjusted for age, sex, waist circumference, and hypertension, there was a 70% increase in the odds of diabetes per standard deviation in gram of protein intake/day (standardized OR 1.70 [95% CI 1.08, 2.68], p = 0.02). There was a trend toward increased protein intake and diabetes in the subset of participants with previously unknown, laboratory-diagnosed diabetes. Results did not vary significantly by sex, body mass index, or dietary pattern.

Conclusions: Higher level of protein intake was associated with increased odds of diabetes in this cohort of South Asian Indians. Diet may be a modifiable lifestyle factor in this high-risk ethnic group.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / diagnosis
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / epidemiology
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / etiology*
  • Diet / adverse effects
  • Dietary Proteins / adverse effects*
  • Energy Intake
  • Female
  • Humans
  • India / ethnology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Odds Ratio
  • Risk Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • United States / epidemiology


  • Dietary Proteins