Diets High In Subsidized Foods May Raise Risk of Diabetes and Heart Disease

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Edward Gregg, PhD Chief of the Epidemiology and Statistics Branch Division of Diabetes Translation National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Dr. Edward Gregg

Edward Gregg, PhD
Chief of the Epidemiology and Statistics Branch
Division of Diabetes Translation
National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: The research was led by the lead author, Karen R. Siegel, PhD, as part of her PhD graduate studies at Emory for her dissertation. Although subsidized foods are intended to ensure adequate availability of storable, staple foods, studies at the population level have linked these subsidies to risk of cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes. This study is the first of its kind to examine these relationships at the individual level – specifically, the relationship between diets made up of more subsidized foods, and an individual’s personal risks for developing cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes.

The study design that was used here does not allow us to say that these subsidized foods specifically cause type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Rather, people whose diets contain more corn, soybean, wheat, rice, sorghum, dairy, and livestock products are at greater risk for type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

According to this research, people whose diets contained more subsidized foods were on average younger, less physically active and more likely to be smokers. They also had much less income, education and food security – or the ability to get enough safe and healthy food to meet their dietary needs.

MedicalResearch.com: What should readers take away from your report?

Response: This research suggests an association between individual diets that included more corn, soybean, wheat, rice, sorghum, dairy, and livestock products and personal risks of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease at the individual level.

The results of our study don’t indicate that having a diet higher in subsidized foods causes poor health and it’s important that people remember that subsidized foods in and of themselves aren’t bad. However, a large proportion of these subsidized crops are later converted to high fat meat and dairy products, refined grains, high calorie juices and soft drinks and processed and packaged foods. We know that eating too many of these foods can lead to obesity, cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes. When a diet high in fats, sugars and sodium is paired with other factors such as smoking, inactivity, genetics and other social and environmental factors, it can certainly increase risks for obesity and other chronic health problems.

MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Response: Additional research is needed to determine how changes to current subsidy structures would alter the production and consumption of various foods, and the resulting health outcomes. CDC is making the results of this report available to the public and may continue to conduct ongoing research that can inform the work of other key stakeholders and public health professionals.

MedicalResearch.com: Is there anything else you would like to add?

Response: It’s important that people do their best to maintain their health by eating right, quitting smoking, getting physical activity and managing health problems as they emerge. They should try to follow current U.S. dietary guidelines, which recommend that diets:
o Emphasize fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and fat-free or low-fat milk and milk products;
o Include lean meats, poultry, fish, beans, eggs, and nuts;
o Are low in saturated fats, trans fats, cholesterol, salt (sodium), and added sugars; and
o Stay within your daily calorie needs.

Evidence has also demonstrated that support by family, friends, work places, health care systems, neighborhoods, and local, state and national environments can help sustain healthy lifestyles. Those in public health and policy may use the results of our science to reduce the impact of chronic disease at all levels.

MedicalResearch.com: Thank you for your contribution to the MedicalResearch.com community.

Citation:

Siegel KR, McKeever Bullard K, Imperatore G, et al. Association of Higher Consumption of Foods Derived From Subsidized Commodities With Adverse Cardiometabolic Risk Among US Adults. JAMA Intern Med.Published online July 05, 2016. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2016.2410.

Note: Content is Not intended as medical advice. Please consult your health care provider regarding your specific medical condition and questions.

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