New study reveals link between food additives and diabetes risk

A study conducted in France has uncovered a concerning association between the consumption of certain food additives and an increased risk of type 2 diabetes. The study, which involved over 100 000 participants from the NutriNet-Santé cohort, sheds light on the potential health implications of commonly used emulsifiers found in various processed foods.    

Emulsifiers, such as carrageenans, mono- and diacetyltartaric acid esters, and other additives, are frequently added to enhance the appearance, taste, and texture of processed and packaged foods. These additives can be found in a wide range of products, from ice cream and chocolate to industrial breads and ready-to-eat meals.    

The study analyzed data collected over a period of up to 14 years. Participants provided detailed dietary records, documenting the foods and drinks consumed, including their brand names and additive content. The researchers also performed laboratory assays to quantify the chronic exposure to these emulsifiers over time.    

After an average follow-up of seven years, the researchers observed a significant correlation between the intake of certain emulsifiers and an increased risk of type 2 diabetes. For example, a 100mg-per-day increase in carrageenan consumption was associated with a 3% higher risk, while a 500mg-per-day increase in tripotassium phosphate was linked to a 15% increased risk.    

While the study provides valuable insights into the relationship between food additives and diabetes risk, the researchers acknowledge the need for additional research to confirm these findings and evaluate regulatory measures. They plan to further examine variations in blood markers and gut microbiota associated with additive consumption, as well as investigate the potential "cocktail effects" of additive mixtures.    

The implications of this study extend beyond France, as the consumption of ultra-processed foods, which often contain these emulsifiers, is a common dietary pattern in many parts of the world. Adults in Europe and North America, for instance, obtain a significant portion of their caloric intake from ultra-processed foods. Therefore, the findings of this study have global significance and call for increased attention to the safety and regulation of food additives.      



The Lancet