A healthy diet prevents type 2 diabetes but is often difficult to adhere to. This cross-sectional study aimed to investigate whether eating competence is associated with diet or risk factors and prevalence of type 2 diabetes in individuals screened for type 2 diabetes risk. Eating competence is an indicator of food acceptance, positive attitudes, internal regulation and contextual skills related to food and eating. In total, 3147 Finnish adults aged 18-74 at an increased risk for type 2 diabetes identified via online risk screening participated in the baseline examinations of the Stop Diabetes (StopDia) study. The participants filled out the digital questionnaire on food intake, physical activity and sleep, and the Satter Eating Competence Inventory 2.0TM (ecSI 2.0TM). In addition, anthropometric and laboratory measurements were performed at primary healthcare centres. Eating competent individuals (37%, classified by ecSI 2.0TM) had a better quality of diet (p < 0.05 for all). Additionally, eating competence was associated with a lower prevalence of previously undiagnosed type 2 diabetes, abdominal obesity, metabolic syndrome and hypertriglyceridaemia, and with better insulin sensitivity (p < 0.05 for all). However, these associations, except for metabolic syndrome, were at least partly mediated by body mass index. Eating competence is associated with a healthy diet and could, thus, in the long term, support the prevention of type 2 diabetes.
Keywords: diet; eating behaviour; eating competence; glucose metabolism; insulin metabolism; lifestyle; metabolic syndrome; type 2 diabetes.