Ultra-Processed Food Consumption and Adult Diabetes Risk: A Systematic Review and Dose-Response Meta-Analysis

Nutrients. 2021 Dec 9;13(12):4410. doi: 10.3390/nu13124410.


(1) Background: Recent individual studies have demonstrated that consumption of ultra-processed food (UPF) may be related to type two diabetes mellitus (T2DM). We aimed to synthesize the results from these individual studies by conducting an updated systematic review and meta-analysis of observational studies evaluating the association between UPF consumption and the risk of T2DM. (2) Methods: A systematic search was conducted using ISI Web of Science, PubMed/MEDLINE and Scopus electronic databases from inception up to August 2021. Data were extracted from five studies (one cross-sectional study and four cohort studies, totaling 230,526 adults from four different countries). Risk ratios (RR) of pooled results were estimated using a random-effects model. (3) Results: Our results revealed that higher UPF consumption was significantly associated with an increased risk of T2DM (RR = 1.74; 95% CI: 1.36, 2.22; I2 = 68.9%; p < 0.001; n = 5). Linear dose-response analysis indicated that each 10% increase in UPF consumption (kcal/d) was associated with a 15% higher risk of T2DM (RR = 1.15; 95% CI: 1.06, 1.26; I2 = 86.0%; p < 0.001; n = 5) among adults. Non-linear dose-response analysis demonstrated a positive linear association between UPF consumption and T2DM (pnonlinearity = 0.13, pdose-response < 0.001; n = 5) among adults. (4) Conclusions: A higher intake of UPF was significantly associated with an increased risk of T2DM. However, underlying mechanisms remain unknown and future experimental studies are warranted.

Keywords: diabetes risk; meta-analysis; ultra-processed food.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / etiology*
  • Fast Foods / adverse effects*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Observational Studies as Topic
  • Risk
  • Risk Assessment