White Rice, Brown Rice and the Risk of Type 2 Diabetes: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis

Jiayue Yu, Bhavadharini Balaji , Maria Tinajero , Sarah Jarvis, Tauseef Khan, Sudha Vasudevan, Viren Ranawana, Amudha Poobalan, Shilpa Bhupathiraju , Qi Sun , Walter C Willett, Frank B Hu , David JA Jenkins, Viswanathan Mohan, Vasanti S Malik * (Corresponding Author)

*Corresponding author for this work

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Objective Intake of white rice has been associated with elevated risk for type 2 diabetes (T2D), while studies on brown rice are conflicting. To inform dietary guidance, we synthesised the evidence on white rice and brown rice with T2D risk.

Design Systematic review and meta-analysis.

Data sources PubMed, EMBASE and Cochrane databases were searched through November 2021.

Eligibility criteria Prospective cohort studies of white and brown rice intake on T2D risk (≥1 year), and randomised controlled trials (RCTs) comparing brown rice with white rice on cardiometabolic risk factors (≥2 weeks).

Data extraction and synthesis Data were extracted by the primary reviewer and two additional reviewers. Meta-analyses were conducted using random-effects models and reporting followed the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses guidelines. Risk of bias was assessed using the Newcastle Ottawa Scale for prospective cohort studies and the Cochrane Risk of Bias Tool for RCTs. Strength of the meta-evidence was assessed using NutriGrade.

Results Nineteen articles were included: 8 cohort studies providing 18 estimates (white rice: 15 estimates, 25 956 cases, n=5 77 426; brown rice: 3 estimates, 10 507 cases, n=1 97 228) and 11 RCTs (n=1034). In cohort studies, white rice was associated with higher risk of T2D (pooled RR, 1.16; 95% CI: 1.02 to 1.32) comparing extreme categories. At intakes above ~300 g/day, a dose–response was observed (each 158 g/day serving was associated with 13% (11%–15%) higher risk of T2D). Intake of brown rice was associated with lower risk of T2D (pooled RR, 0.89; 95% CI: 0.81 to 0.97) comparing extreme categories. Each 50 g/day serving of brown rice was associated with 13% (6%–20%) lower risk of T2D. Cohort studies were considered to be of good or fair quality. RCTs showed an increase in high-density lipoprotein-cholesterol (0.06 mmol/L; 0.00 to 0.11 mmol/L) in the brown compared with white rice group. No other significant differences in risk factors were observed. The majority of RCTs were found to have some concern for risk of bias. Overall strength of the meta-evidence was moderate for cohort studies and moderate and low for RCTs.

Conclusion Intake of white rice was associated with higher risk of T2D, while intake of brown rice was associated with lower risk. Findings from substitution trials on cardiometabolic risk factors were inconsistent.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere065426
Number of pages60
JournalBMJ Open
Issue number9
Early online date27 Sept 2022
Publication statusPublished - 27 Sept 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding This study received no external funding. VSM is supported by the Canada Research Chair programme. We thank authors who provided additional data for meta-analysis.

Data Availability Statement

Data are available upon reasonable request. The study data set can be requested from VSM: vasanti.malik@utoronto.ca.


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