Dr Nita Forouhi, a leading nutritional scientist and public health doctor from the MRC Epidemiology Unit at theUniversity of Cambridge, helped to open the world-class Diabetes UK Professional Conference in Manchester on Wednesday (March 8); also fittingly International Women’s Day.
Dr Forouhi, who was awarded the prestigious Rank Nutrition Named Lecture, talked about how years of painstaking research into diet and nutrition are linked to informing realistic strategies for the prevention ofType 2 diabetes.
She highlighted the challenge of the complexity of diet, but stated that real progress has been made in understanding the healthy and unhealthy foods and dietary patterns for disease prevention. She stressed the importance of using robust scientific evidence across a body of research, not single studies, for dietary recommendations.
Dr Forouhi said: “Using very large population based studies, we have generated a body of strong evidence to show a connection between certain types of foods and Type 2 diabetes.
"For example, our research demonstrates a strong link between the habitual consumption of sugary drinks and new-onset Type 2 diabetes."
The good news is that avoiding drinking sugary soft drinks could significantly reduce the number of people diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes in the future.
“While our work highlights the benefits of considering diet in Type 2 prevention, it is also important to remember a healthy balanced diet is advantageous for everyone – with or without any form of diabetes," added Dr Forouhi.
“On top of that, government interventions like theSoft Drinks Industry LevyandPublic Health England’s sugar, saturated fat and salt reduction programme aim to help create a healthier environment so that all of us can make better food choices.”
Dr Emily Burns, Research Communications Manager at Diabetes UK, said: “It was really inspirational to hear Dr Forouhi highlight years’ worth of research into diet and nutrition at the Diabetes UK Professional Conference, especially onInternational Women’s Day.
“It’s absolutely crucial that we find ways to prevent more people developing Type 2 diabetes in the future. To do this, we must get a better understanding of how food works and how it affects our bodies – and Dr Forouhi is boldly leading the way.”
Diabetes is one of the UK’s biggest health problems, and it is on the rise. Some 4.5 million people in the UK are living with diabetes, and 11.9 million in the country are at risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.