Dairy consumption and risk of type 2 diabetes: 3 cohorts of US adults and an updated meta-analysis

BMC Med. 2014 Nov 25;12:215. doi: 10.1186/s12916-014-0215-1.


Background: The relation between consumption of different types of dairy and risk of type 2 diabetes (T2D) remains uncertain. Therefore, we aimed to evaluate the association between total dairy and individual types of dairy consumptions and incident T2D in US adults.

Methods: We followed 41,436 men in the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study (1986 to 2010), 67,138 women in the Nurses' Health Study (1980 to 2010), and 85,884 women in the Nurses' Health Study II (1991 to 2009). Diet was assessed by validated food-frequency questionnaires, and data were updated every four years. Incident T2D was confirmed by a validated supplementary questionnaire.

Results: During 3,984,203 person-years of follow-up, we documented 15,156 incident T2D cases. After adjustment for age, body mass index (BMI) and other lifestyle and dietary risk factors, total dairy consumption was not associated with T2D risk and the pooled hazard ratio (HR) (95% confidence interval (CI)) of T2D for one serving/day increase in total dairy was 0.99 (0.98, 1.01). Among different types of dairy products, neither low-fat nor high-fat dairy intake was appreciably associated with risk of T2D. However, yogurt intake was consistently and inversely associated with T2D risk across the three cohorts with the pooled HR of 0.83 (0.75, 0.92) for one serving/day increment (P for trend <0.001). We conducted a meta-analysis of 14 prospective cohorts with 459,790 participants and 35,863 incident T2D cases; the pooled relative risks (RRs) (95% CIs) were 0.98 (0.96, 1.01) and 0.82 (0.70, 0.96) for one serving total dairy/day and one serving yogurt/day, respectively.

Conclusions: Higher intake of yogurt is associated with a reduced risk of T2D, whereas other dairy foods and consumption of total dairy are not appreciably associated with incidence of T2D.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cohort Studies
  • Dairy Products*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / epidemiology*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / etiology
  • Diet*
  • Feeding Behavior
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Risk Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Yogurt