Epidemiological studies have demonstrated that high total protein intake was related to type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) risks. However, few studies considered the impact of dietary pattern.
We examined the associations between protein intake and T2DM in different dietary patterns.
We used the demographic and dietary information of adults aged 18–75 years from the China Health and Nutrition Survey (2009), consisting of 4113 women and 4580 men. Dietary data was collected by using 24-h recalls combined with a food inventory for 3 consecutive days. Cluster analysis was used to classify subjects into groups, as determined by major sources of protein. Logistic regression models were used to calculate odds ratios (OR) and 95% confidence interval (95% CI) of T2DM according to the energy-adjusted protein intake.
All participants were divided into three patterns according to the dietary source of protein (legumes and seafood, red meat, refined grains). Overall, plant protein intake was significantly and inversely associated with T2DM. In the subgroup analysis by dietary patterns, extreme quartile of plant protein intake was also inversely related to T2DM in the “legumes and seafood” group [OR = 0.58, 95% CI (0.33–0.96)]. Total protein intake and animal protein intake were positively related to T2DM in the “red meat” group [OR: 3.12 (1.65–5.91) and 3.48 (1.87–6.60), respectively]. However, the association of animal protein intake was reversed in the “refined grains” group [OR = 0.55, 95% CI 0.32–0.89].
The association between protein intake and T2DM varies by dietary pattern. Dietary pattern may be considered into the recommendation of protein intake for diabetes prevention.