A study published in BMJ.com indicates that a higher consumption of white rice is associated with a significantly increased risk of type 2 diabetes, especially in Asian populations.

Each serving per day of white rice consumption increases the risk of diabetes by 11 percent, according to the study.

Rice provides food for more than half of the world’s population, especially those living in some of the most populous countries, such as China, India, and Japan. And white rice—which is produced through a series of mechanized processes including hulling and milling and has higher glycemic levels than whole grains—is the predominant type of rice consumed worldwide.

The high glycemic levels of white rice, in combination with dramatically decreased levels of physical activity and increased access to unhealthy foods, has led to a rise in obesity insulin resistance in Asian countries.

In addition, the study shows that even for Western populations with typically low intake levels, relatively high white rice consumption may still modestly increase risk of diabetes.

1. Hu EA, Pan A, Malik Va, Sun Q. White rice consumption and risk of type 2 diabetes: meta-analysis and systematic review. BMJ 2012; 344: e1454. (open access)