White rice intake and incidence of type-2 diabetes: analysis of two prospective cohort studies from Iran

Asieh Golozar, Davood Khalili, Arash Etemadi, Hossein Poustchi, Akbar Fazeltabar, Firoozeh Hosseini, Farin Kamangar, Masoud Khoshnia, Farhad Islami, Farzad Hadaegh, Paul Brennan, Paolo Boffetta, Christian C. Abnet, Sanford M. Dawsey, Fereidoun Azizi, Reza Malekzadeh, Goodarz Danaei

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


Background: Refined grains and white rice have been associated with elevated risk of type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM). In this study, we sought to quantify the effect of white rice intake on incident T2DM in two prospective population-based cohort studies from Iran, where white rice is one of the main staple. Methods: We used follow-up data from 9,182 participants from Golestan Cohort Study (GCS, 2004-2007, conducted mainly in rural areas) and 2,173 from Tehran Lipid and Glucose Study (TLGS, 2004-2006) who did not have T2DM and other chronic diseases at baseline. Diet was assessed using validated food frequency questionnaires. Multivariable logistic regression models were used to estimate adjusted odds ratios (ORs) for incident T2DM. Results: We documented 902 new cases of T2DM in GCS and 81 in TLGS. Age-standardized cumulative incidence of T2DM was 9.9% in Golestan and 8.0% in Tehran. Daily white rice intake was significantly higher among residents of Tehran compared to Golestan (median daily intake: 250 vs. 120 grams; P-value < 0.001). After adjustment for potential confounders, there was no significant association between daily white rice intake and incident T2DM in GCS. In TLGS, the adjusted OR (95% confidence interval (CI)) was 2.1 (1.1, 3.9) comparing participants with daily white rice intake of >250 grams/day to those with <250. Conclusions: We observed an increased lieklihood of T2DM associated with high white rice intake among residents of Tehran and no association in Golestan. Our findings, if further supported by other studies, have important public health implications especially for countries where white rice is a major staple and diabetes is increasing rapidly incidence is high. Further research is needed to investigate lack of an association between lower levels of white rice intake and T2DM.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number133
Pages (from-to)1-11
Number of pages11
JournalBMC public health
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 31 2017


  • Diet
  • Incident type 2 diabetes
  • Low- and middle-income countries
  • Refined carbohydrates
  • White rice

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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