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Diabetes Care. 2011 May;34(5):1150-6. doi: 10.2337/dc10-2352. Epub 2011 Apr 4.

Diet-quality scores and the risk of type 2 diabetes in men.

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  • 1Department of Nutrition, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts, USA.



To 1) compare associations of diet-quality scores, which were inversely associated with cardiovascular disease, with incident type 2 diabetes and 2) test for differences in absolute-risk reduction across various strata.


Men from the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study, who were initially free of type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, or cancer (n = 41,615), were followed for ≤ 20 years. The Healthy Eating Index (HEI) 2005, the alternative HEI (aHEI) the Recommended Food Score, the alternative Mediterranean Diet (aMED) Score, and the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) Score were calculated from food-frequency questionnaires. Cox proportional hazard models with time-varying covariates were used to assess risk by quintiles and continuous intervals.


There were 2,795 incident cases of type 2 diabetes. After multivariate adjustment, the aHEI, aMED, and DASH scores were significantly associated with reduced risk. A 1-SD increase was associated with 9-13% reduced risk (P < 0.01), and the DASH score was associated with lower risk independent of other scores. These scores were associated with lower absolute risk among those who were overweight or obese compared with normal weight (P for interaction < 0.01).


Several diet-quality scores were associated with a lower risk of type 2 diabetes and reflect a common dietary pattern characterized by high intakes of plant-based foods such as whole grains; moderate alcohol; and low intakes of red and processed meat, sodium, sugar-sweetened beverages, and trans fat. High-quality diets may yield the greatest reduction in diabetes cases when followed by those with a high BMI.

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