Go (over) easy on the eggs: ‘Egg-cess’ consumption linked to diabetes


Go (over) easy on the eggs: ‘Egg-cess’ consumption linked to diabetes

The association between eating eggs and diabetes is often debated. This study found that long-term egg consumption indeed put you at risk

Scrambled, poached, or boiled, eggs are a popular breakfast food the world over, but is the egg has a health benefit?

New research from the University of South Australia says: be careful. Excess egg consumption can increase your risk of diabetes.

The study comprised 8545 adults in average age of 50 years, found that people who regularly consumed one or more eggs per day (equivalent to 50 grams) increased their risk of diabetes by 60 percent. The effect was also more substantial in women than in men.

Between the years 1991-2009, researchers found that the average daily consumption of eggs increased continuously from 16 grams in 1991-93, to 26 grams in 2000-04, and 31 grams in 2009.

International egg consumption across the same period was:

  • 33.65 g/day in Europe
  • 28.43 g/day in America
  • 20.56 g/day in Asia
  • 21.45 g/day in the world
  • 18.20 g/day in Oceania (including Australia)
  • 5.93 g/day in Africa.

With the prevalence of diabetes in the U.S the National Diabetes Statistics Report, 2020, has found that 34.2 million Americans, just over 1 in 10, have diabetes. 88 million adults, about 1 in 3, have prediabetes.

UniSA’s Dr Ming Li, epidemiologist and public health expert, says the rise of diabetes is a growing concern, especially in China where changes to the traditional Chinese diet are impacting health.

China now exceeding 11 percent – above that of the global average of 8.5 percent – diabetes has become a serious public health concern.

“Over the past few decades, China has undergone a substantial nutritional transition that’s seen many people move away from a traditional diet comprising grains and vegetables, to a more processed diet that includes greater amounts of meat, snacks and energy-dense food.

“At the same time, egg consumption has also been steadily increasing; from 1991 to 2009, the number of people eating eggs in China nearly doubled*.

“While the association between eating eggs and diabetes is often debated, this study has aimed to assess people’s long-term egg consumption of eggs and their risk of developing diabetes, as determined by fasting blood glucose.

“What we discovered was that higher long-term egg consumption (greater than 38 grams per day) increased the risk of diabetes among Chinese adults by approximately 25 percent.

“Furthermore, adults who regularly ate a lot of eggs (over 50 grams, or equivalent to one egg, per day) had an increased risk of diabetes by 60 per cent.”

Dr Li says that while these results suggest that higher egg consumption is positively associated with the risk of diabetes in Chinese adults, more research is needed to explore causal relationships.

“To beat diabetes, a multi-faceted approach is needed that not only encompasses research, but also a clear set of guidelines to help inform and guide the public. This study is one step towards that long-term goal.”

  • Wang, Y., Li, M. and Zumin, S. (2020) ‘Higher egg consumption associated with increased risk of diabetes in Chinese adults – China Health and Nutrition Survey’ in British Journal of Nutrition.


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