Many studies in recent years have found a strong correlation between increased dietary fiber intake and a reduced risk of developing type 2 diabetes, but most of this data has come from the United States, raising questions about whether the findings are generalizable to other countries. To bridge that gap, a European research team published a study in the journal Diabetologia that evaluated the relationship between fiber and diabetes using data from the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC)-InterAct study. Additionally, they conducted a meta-analysis where they combined the data from this study with data from 18 independent studies from other countries.
In analyzing the EPIC data from 8 European countries (Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom), the research team found that participants who consumed more than 26 g per day (the highest total fiber intake) had an 18% lower risk of developing diabetes compared to those with the lowest total fiber intake (defined as less than 19 g/d). This finding remained consistent even after they adjusted the results to include the effects of diet and lifestyle factors. However, when they adjusted the results for body mass index, higher total fiber intake no longer had the same effect, which may indicate that intake of fiber helps people lose weight and that it is the weight loss itself which reduces the risk of diabetes.
Of all the fiber sources studied, cereal was found to have the greatest effect; participants with the highest levels of cereal intake had a 19% lower risk of developing diabetes, with vegetable fiber consumption yielding a 16% decrease in risk.
In the meta-analysis section of the article, the researchers pooled these data with those from 18 other independent studies (from Australia, China, Finland, Germany, Japan, Taiwan, the United Kingdom, United States, and a cross-section of European nations). These studies yielded data on 41,000 new-onset cases of type 2 diabetes and demonstrated that the risk of diabetes fell by 9% for each 10-g-per-day increase in total fiber intake and by 25% for each 10-g-per-day increase in cereal fiber intake.
The global data seem to indicate that the intake of total and cereal fiber is inversely related to the risk of type 2 diabetes and this risk may be mediated by the effect of fiber on weight loss.
InterAct Consortium. Dietary fibre and incidence of type 2 diabetes in eight European countries: the EPIC-InterAct Study and a meta-analysis of prospective studies. Diabetologia. 2015;58(7):1394-1408.


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