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AIMS/HYPOTHESIS: Previous evidence linking red meat consumption with diabetes risk mainly came from western countries, with little evidence from China, where patterns of meat consumption are different. Moreover, global evidence remains inconclusive about the associations of poultry and fish consumption with diabetes. Therefore we investigated the associations of red meat, poultry and fish intake with incidence of diabetes in a Chinese population. METHODS: The prospective China Kadoorie Biobank recruited ~512,000 adults (59% women, mean age 51 years) from ten rural and urban areas across China in 2004-2008. At the baseline survey, a validated interviewer-administered laptop-based questionnaire was used to collect information on the consumption frequency of major food groups including red meat, poultry, fish, fresh fruit and several others. During ~9 years of follow-up, 14,931 incidences of new-onset diabetes were recorded among 461,036 participants who had no prior diabetes, cardiovascular diseases or cancer at baseline. Cox regression analyses were performed to calculate adjusted HRs for incident diabetes associated with red meat, poultry and fish intake. RESULTS: At baseline, 47.0%, 1.3% and 8.9% of participants reported a regular consumption (i.e. ≥4 days/week) of red meat, poultry and fish, respectively. After adjusting for adiposity and other potential confounders, each 50 g/day increase in red meat and fish intake was associated with 11% (HR 1.11 [95% CI 1.04, 1.20]) and 6% (HR 1.06 [95% CI 1.00, 1.13]) higher risk of incident diabetes, respectively. For both, the associations were more pronounced among men and women from urban areas, with an HR (95% CI) of 1.42 (1.15, 1.74) and 1.18 (1.03, 1.36), respectively, per 50 g/day red meat intake and 1.15 (1.02, 1.30) and 1.11 (1.01, 1.23), respectively, per 50 g/day fish intake. There was no significant association between diabetes and poultry intake, either overall (HR 0.96 [95% CI 0.83, 1.12] per 50 g/day intake) or in specific population subgroups. CONCLUSIONS/INTERPRETATION: In Chinese adults, both red meat and fish, but not poultry, intake were positively associated with diabetes risk, particularly among urban participants. Our findings add new evidence linking red meat and fish intake with cardiometabolic diseases. DATA AVAILABILITY: Details of how to access the China Kadoorie Biobank data and rules of China Kadoorie Biobank data release are available from

Original publication




Journal article



Publication Date





767 - 779


Biobank, China, Diabetes, Fish, Poultry, Prospective cohort study, Red meat, Adult, Aged, Animals, Biological Specimen Banks, China, Diabetes Mellitus, Feeding Behavior, Female, Fishes, Humans, Male, Middle Aged, Nutrition Surveys, Poultry, Red Meat, Risk Factors