Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

BACKGROUND: The global prevalence of diabetes is high and rapidly increasing. Some previous studies have found that vegetarians might have a lower risk of diabetes than non-vegetarians. OBJECTIVE: We examined the association between vegetarianism and risk of hospitalisation or death with diabetes in a large, prospective cohort study of British adults. METHODS: The analysed cohort included participants from the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC)-Oxford study who were diabetes free at recruitment (1993-2001), with available dietary intake data at baseline, and linked hospital admissions and death data for diabetes over follow-up (n = 45,314). Participants were categorised as regular meat eaters (≥50 g per day: n = 15,181); low meat eaters (<50 g of meat per day: n = 7615); fish eaters (ate no meat but consumed fish: n = 7092); and vegetarians (ate no meat or fish, including vegans: n = 15,426). We used multivariable Cox proportional hazards models to assess associations between diet group and risk of diabetes. RESULTS: Over a mean of 17.6 years of follow-up, 1224 incident cases of diabetes were recorded. Compared with regular meat eaters, the low meat eaters, fish eaters, and vegetarians were less likely to develop diabetes (hazard ratio (HR) = 0.63, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.54-0.75; HR = 0.47, 95% CI 0.38-0.59; and HR = 0.63, 95% CI 0.54-0.74, respectively). These associations were substantially attenuated after adjusting for body mass index (BMI) (low meat eaters: HR = 0.78, 95% CI 0.66-0.92; fish eaters: HR = 0.64, 95% CI 0.51-0.80; and vegetarians: HR = 0.89, 95% CI 0.76-1.05). CONCLUSIONS: Low meat and non-meat eaters had a lower risk of diabetes, in part because of a lower BMI.

Original publication




Journal article


Nutr Diabetes

Publication Date





Adult, Aged, Body Mass Index, Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2, Diet, Vegetarian, Female, Hospitalization, Humans, Incidence, Male, Middle Aged, Prospective Studies, Risk, United Kingdom