Embracing complexity: making sense of diet, nutrition, obesity and type 2 diabetes

Diabetologia. 2023 May;66(5):786-799. doi: 10.1007/s00125-023-05873-z. Epub 2023 Feb 14.


Nutrition therapy has been emphasised for decades for people with type 2 diabetes, and the vital importance of diet and nutrition is now also recognised for type 2 diabetes prevention. However, the complexity of diet and mixed messages on what is unhealthy, healthy or optimal have led to confusion among people with diabetes and their physicians as well as the general public. What should people eat for the prevention, management and remission of type 2 diabetes? Recently, progress has been made in research evidence that has advanced our understanding in several areas of past uncertainty. This article examines some of these issues, focusing on the role of diet in weight management and in the prevention and management of type 2 diabetes. It considers nutritional strategies including low-energy, low-fat and low-carbohydrate diets, discusses inter-relationships between nutrients, foods and dietary patterns, and examines aspects of quantity and quality together with new developments, challenges and future directions.

Keywords: Diet; Epidemiology; Nutrients; Nutrition; Obesity; Quality; Quantity; Review; Study design; Type 2 diabetes.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2* / prevention & control
  • Diet
  • Diet, Carbohydrate-Restricted
  • Diet, Fat-Restricted
  • Humans
  • Nutritional Status
  • Obesity