An article recently published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition deduced that there is a negative association between the use of nutrition labels and one’s future risk of diabetes.
It has been estimated that approximately 26.5 million adults in the United States greater or equal to 20 years of age have undiagnosed or diagnosed diabetes. The findings of numerous prospective studies (studies that usually follow a group of participants and collect data repeatedly over a period of time) cite lifestyle factors, such as a healthy diet, as playing a key role in lowering the risk of developing diabetes. Nutrition labels on various food products could be useful in aiding participants with selecting healthier food products; some intervention and observational studies have suggested that the use of nutrition labels has been successful in terms of enhancing the quality of individuals’ diets. Prospective research exploring the association between the use of nutrition labels and the risk of diabetes development is scant. Subsequently, researchers who conducted a new study and hypothesized that the use of nutrition labels would have long-term health consequences, namely the use of nutrition labels would decrease the risk of developing diabetes (the incidence of diabetes).
The study sample consisted of 7150 ethnically diverse, young American adults who were free of diabetes. When collecting demographic information about participants at the beginning of the study, researchers noticed that the use of food labels was more prominent among participants who had health insurance, were non-Hispanic Whites, had other chronic diseases, and an above average net household income. Researchers followed and collected data from these participants for approximately 12 years and documented that 430 (6%) participants developed diabetes. It appeared that there was a link between nutritional label use and diabetes risk. However, there was a delay regarding the reduction in diabetes risk; the negative association between nutrition label use and diabetes risk became evident only after 10 years of follow-up). This delay may be indicative of potential reverse causality (a diabetes diagnosis could result in a person being more likely to use food labels to make healthier choices and improve their diet).
To summarize, the researchers determined that an association between food label use and long-term diabetes risk exists in a population of young American adults; however further research involving the meticulous measurement of participant food intake is warranted in future studies.
Written By: Melissa Booker