Dietary and genetic risk scores and incidence of type 2 diabetes

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Background: Both lifestyle and genetic predisposition determine the development of type 2 diabetes (T2D), and studies have indicated interactions between specific dietary components and individual genetic variants. However, it is unclear whether the importance of overall dietary habits, including T2D-related food intakes, differs depending on genetic predisposition to T2D. We examined interaction between a genetic risk score for T2D, constructed from 48 single nucleotide polymorphisms identified in genome-wide association studies, and a diet risk score of four foods consistently associated with T2D in epidemiological studies (processed meat, sugar-sweetened beverages, whole grain and coffee). In total, 25,069 individuals aged 45-74 years with genotype information and without prevalent diabetes from the Malmö Diet and Cancer cohort (1991-1996) were included. Diet data were collected with a modified diet history method. Results: During 17-year follow-up, 3588 incident T2D cases were identified. Both the diet risk score (HR in the highest risk category 1.40; 95% CI 1.26, 1.58; P trend=6×10-10) and the genetic risk score (HR in the highest tertile of the genetic risk score 1.67; 95% CI 1.54, 1.81; P trend=7×10-35) were associated with increased incidence of T2D. No significant interaction between the genetic risk score and the diet risk score (P=0.83) or its food components was observed. The highest risk was seen among the 6% of the individuals with both high genetic and dietary risk scores (HR 2.49; 95% CI 2.06, 3.01). Conclusions: The findings thus show that both genetic heredity and dietary habits previously associated with T2D add to the risk of T2D, but they seem to act in an independent fashion, with the consequence that all individuals, whether at high or low genetic risk, would benefit from favourable food choices.

Original languageEnglish
Article number13
JournalGenes and Nutrition
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2018 May 16

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Nutrition and Dietetics
  • Endocrinology and Diabetes

Free keywords

  • Cohort study
  • Diet
  • Food intake
  • Gene-environment interactions
  • Type 2 diabetes


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