Study suggests link between certain food additives and diabetes risk

Study suggests link between certain food additives and diabetes risk

Frequent consumption of certain emulsifiers seems associated with a slightly higher risk of diabetes, suggests a large study published Wednesday but whose methodology is the subject of several criticisms.

Consumption of certain emulsifying food additives may be associated with an increased risk of type 2 diabetes“, explains a press release from the French Institute of Health and Medical Research (Inserm) which contributed to this study published in the Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology.

Emulsifiers: common additives

Emulsifiers are the most common additives within the food industry. They are found in many products, of which they aim to improve the texture and consumption.

This work was carried out in Europe as part of a so-called cohort study. This method consists of following a group of people for years, observing what pathologies they develop while measuring multiple factors linked to their lifestyles.

An increased risk of diabetes

Here, this cohort, called Nutrinet, monitored in particular by Inserm, includes some 100,000 adults supported for around fifteen years. It has already given rise to numerous studies, some suggesting a link between the consumption of sweeteners and the occurrence of cardiovascular diseases or cancers.

This time, researchers concluded that it is more common to develop type 2 diabetes when you often eat foods containing emulsifiers like carrageenan or xanthan gum.

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A link that remains to be confirmed

However, like previous studies by the same team, its conclusions have been cautiously received by other researchers, who point out several limitations in terms of methodology.

These, some admitted by the authors themselves, are partly linked to the very principle of a study of this type, called observational: it does not make it possible to establish a direct cause and effect relationship between the consumption of these additives and the occurrence of diabetes.

It is not even clear that the risk of diabetes is associated precisely with the consumption of these emulsifiers, as epidemiologist Gunter Kuhnle, a nutrition specialist, points out in a reaction to the British Science Media Center.

This study is likely to show a link between diabetes and foods that typically contain certain emulsifiers, but not an association with these emulsifiers themselves“, he notes. And, in any case, “the magnitude of the effects is very small”, he notes.

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