Aim/hypothesis: The aim of this study was to investigate the association between total and types of dairy product intake and risk of developing incident type 2 diabetes, using a food diary.
Methods: A nested case-cohort within the EPIC-Norfolk Study was examined, including a random subcohort (n = 4,000) and cases of incident diabetes (n = 892, including 143 cases in the subcohort) followed-up for 11 years. Diet was assessed using a prospective 7-day food diary. Total dairy intake (g/day) was estimated and categorised into high-fat (≥3.9%) and low-fat (<3.9% fat) dairy, and by subtype into yoghurt, cheese and milk. Combined fermented dairy product intake (yoghurt, cheese, sour cream) was estimated and categorised into high- and low-fat. Prentice-weighted Cox regression HRs were calculated.
Results: Total dairy, high-fat dairy, milk, cheese and high-fat fermented dairy product intakes were not associated with the development of incident diabetes. Low-fat dairy intake was inversely associated with diabetes in age- and sex-adjusted analyses (tertile [T] 3 vs T1, HR 0.81 [95% CI 0.66, 0.98]), but further adjustment for anthropometric, dietary and diabetes risk factors attenuated this association. In addition, an inverse association was found between diabetes and low-fat fermented dairy product intake (T3 vs T1, HR 0.76 [95% CI 0.60, 0.99]; p(trend) = 0.049) and specifically with yoghurt intake (HR 0.72 [95% CI 0.55, 0.95]; p(trend) = 0.017) in multivariable adjusted analyses.
Conclusions/interpretation: Greater low-fat fermented dairy product intake, largely driven by yoghurt intake, was associated with a decreased risk of type 2 diabetes development in prospective analyses. These findings suggest that the consumption of specific dairy types may be beneficial for the prevention of diabetes, highlighting the importance of food group subtypes for public health messages.