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J Nutr. 2019 Jul 1;149(7):1238-1244. doi: 10.1093/jn/nxz058.

Full-Fat Dairy Food Intake is Associated with a Lower Risk of Incident Diabetes Among American Indians with Low Total Dairy Food Intake.

Author information

Department of Epidemiology.
Department of Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle, WA.
Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle, WA.
Medstar Health Research Institute, Hyattsville, MD.
Georgetown and Howard Universities Center for Translational Sciences, Washington, DC.
Texas Biomedical Research Institute, San Antonio, TX.



Diet plays a key role in development of diabetes, and there has been recent interest in better understanding the association of dairy food intake with diabetes.


This study examined the associations of full-fat and low-fat dairy food intake with incident diabetes among American Indians-a population with a high burden of diabetes.


The study included participants from the Strong Heart Family Study (SHFS), a family-based study of cardiovascular disease in American Indians, free of diabetes at baseline (2001-2003) (n = 1623). Participants were 14-86-y-old at baseline and 60.8% were female. Dairy food intake was assessed using a Block food frequency questionnaire. Incident diabetes was defined using American Diabetes Association criteria. Parametric survival models with a Weibull distribution were used to evaluate the associations of full-fat and low-fat dairy food intake with incident diabetes. Serving sizes were defined as 250 mL for milk and 42.5 g for cheese.


We identified 277 cases of diabetes during a mean follow-up of 11 y. Reported intake of dairy foods was low [median full-fat dairy food intake: 0.11 serving/1000 kcal; median low-fat dairy food intake: 0.03 serving/1000 kcal]. Participants who reported the highest full-fat dairy food intake had a lower risk of diabetes compared to those who reported the lowest full-fat food dairy intake [HR (95% CI): 0.79 (0.59, 1.06); P-trend = 0.03, comparing extreme tertiles, after adjustment for age, sex, site, physical activity, education, smoking, diet quality, and low-fat dairy food intake]. Low-fat dairy food intake was not associated with diabetes.


American Indians who participated in the SHFS reported low dairy food intake. Participants who reported higher full-fat dairy food intake had a lower risk of diabetes than participants who reported lower intake. These findings may be of interest to populations with low dairy food intake.


American Indians; dairy food intake; diabetes; diet; high-fat dairy foods; low-fat dairy foods


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