HealthDay News — Consuming low-fat, fermented dairy products, particularly yogurt, may help prevent diabetes, according to researchers.

Eating about 1 cup (80 g) of yogurt per day was associated with a 24% decreased risk of developing incident diabetes compared with eating none, Laura M. O’Connor, PhD, of the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom, and colleagues reported in Diabetologia.

“In public health terms this equates to 4.5 standard size portions (125 g) per week of low-fat fermented dairy products, largely comprising of yoghurt (all types) and including low-fat unripened cheese such as low-fat cottage cheese and fromage frais,” they wrote.

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O’Connor and colleagues assessed diet using a prospective seven-day food diary from a nested case-cohort within the European Prospective Investigation of Cancer-Norfolk Study.

The study included a random subcohort of 4,000 participants, and 892 cases of diabetes, including 143 cases in the subcohort. The researchers sought to examine the association between dairy product intake and risk of developing type 2 diabetes during 11 years of follow-up.

In analyses adjusted for age and sex, participants who consumed 80 grams or about 1 cup of low-fat dairy products were less likely to develop incident diabetes than those who consumed none (tertile 3 vs. tertile 1: hazard ratio [HR], 0.81; 95% CI: 0.66-0.98).

In multivariable analysis, reduced risk of developing diabetes was found for higher intake of low-fat fermented dairy products (T3 vs. T1: HR, 0.76; 95% CI: 0.60-0.99), particularly yogurt (T3 versus T1: HR, 0.72; 95% CI: 0.55-0.95).

This effect was not found for intake of total dairy, high-fat dairy, milk, cheese or high-fat fermented dairy products.

“In this large prospective study, greater low-fat fermented dairy product intake, largely driven by yogurt intake, was associated with a decreased risk of type 2 diabetes,” the authors write. “Replacing a portion of snacks (crisps) with a portion of yoghurt reduced the hazard of type 2 diabetes by 47%, suggesting that some of the association may be attributed to not consuming unhealthy alternatives.”


  1. O’Connor LM et al. Diabetologia. 2014; doi:10.1007/s00125-014-3176-1.