Is rice to be blamed for rising diabetes?

By , on August 23, 2017

Rice consumption in 2013 was lower than the 2008 NNS which was 317 grams or a little more than 1.5 cups daily. (Pixabay photo)
Rice consumption in 2013 was lower than the 2008 NNS which was 317 grams or a little more than 1.5 cups daily. (Pixabay photo)

Rice consumption and diabetes was the topic of debate in an Asia-Pacific conference in clinical Nutrition (APCCN) held in 2015 at Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Two clinical nutrition experts served as opposing speakers of the debate.

Yes, it is

Dr. Christiani Jeyakumar Henry from the United Kingdom presented the arguments that link white rice consumption to the rising prevalence of diabetes, particularly that Asia is the epicenter of Type 2 Diabetes (T2D).

He also said that the Asian phenotype or body composition predisposes them to T2D. He then discussed several studies on the high glycemic response of white rice that contributes to T2D.

Glycemic response is the change in blood glucose after consuming a carbohydrate-rich food.

No, its not rice alone

Dr. Shigeru Yamamoto from Japan presented opposite arguments saying that even though rice consumption has dramatically decreased, diabetes prevalence is still rising, specifically in their country.

Dr. Yamamoto said that rice cannot be blamed as long as everything is consumed in moderation. lt is the amount of rice that may need monitoring, Yamamoto further reiterated.

The high glycemic index of white rice came from the results of studies on post-prandial glucose or after-meal blood glucose response using a single food.

However, in daily life, people do not eat a single food but in combination with something else.

Moreover, Dr. Yamamoto said that the prevalence of obesity in Japan is low despite high carbohydrate intake and they have the highest life expectancy in the world.

Dr. Henry rebutted that Japan’s rice consumption is different from other Asians in the sense that while Japanese eat rice, the amount is nothing compared to how much more their neighboring countries do.

The Philippine scenario

In the Philippines, the 8th National Nutrition Survey (NNS) of the Department of Science and Technology’s Food and Nutrition Research Institute of the (DOST-FNRI) in 2013 showed that the individual rice consumption was 298 grams or about 1.5 cups daily.

Rice consumption in 2013 was lower than the 2008 NNS which was 317 grams or a little more than 1.5 cups daily.

Moreover, diabetes prevalence at the national level based on a cut-off of 126 milligrams per deciliter is 5.1 percent in the 2013 NNS.

Diabetes prevalence in 2013 was higher than the 2008 prevalence at 4.8 percent. This trend was similar to what is being observed in Japan.

Promoting brown rice

Going back to the topic of debate: Is rice consumption causing the rise of diabetes in Asia?

In the end, Drs. Henry and Yamamoto concluded that the rising prevalence of diabetes cannot be blamed on a single food. lt is not rice per se that is the issue but the kind and amount of rice, they further emphasized.

The DOST-FNRI has been promoting the consumption of brown rice, the kind that is minimally processed, with its bran still intact’

Unlike white rice, which is almost purely carbohydrate, brown rice still contains dietary fiber, vitamins and minerals.

In a previous study by Dr. Trinidad p. Trinidad, former Scientist ll at the DOST-FNRI, brown rice has a raw glycemic index (GI) of 50 compared to white rice at 75. Dietary fiber content of brown rice also helps make one feel full longer with lesser intake”

These findings support the promotion of brown rice in diabetes management.

The FNRI developed various recipes and food products using brown rice to promote its consumption.

As what experts have said, it is not rice per se but the kind and amount of rice that is important in preventing diabetes and other lifestyle-related diseases’

Choose brown rice and refuse “unli” rice”.

For more information on food and nutrition, contact: Dr. Mario V. Capanzana, Director, Food and Nutrition Research Institute, Department of Science and Technology, General Santos Avenue, Bicutan, Taguig City; Telephone/ Fax Nos: 837-2934 or 837-3164; Direct Line:839-1839; DOST Trunk Line: 837-2071-82 local 2296 or 2284; e-mail: or at; FNRI-DOST website: Like our Facebook page at or follow our Twitter account at


  • Sara

    I like rice. I was diagnosed with type 2 Diabetes and put on Metformin on June 26th, 2016. I started the ADA diet and followed it 100% for a few weeks and could not get my blood sugar to go below 140. Finally i began to panic and called my doctor, he told me to get used to it. He said I would be on metformin my whole life and eventually insulin. At that point i knew something wasn’t right and began to do a lot of research. Then I found Lisa’s diabetes story (google ” HOW EVER I FREED MYSELF FROM THE DIABETES ” ) I read that article from end to end because everything the writer was saying made absolute sense. I started the diet that day and the next morning my blood sugar was down to 100 and now i have a fasting blood sugar between Mid 70’s and the 80’s. My doctor took me off the metformin after just three week of being on this lifestyle change. I have lost over 30 pounds and 6+ inches around my waist in a month. The truth is we can get off the drugs and help myself by trying natural methods