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White rice linked to risk of diabetes

White rice raises the risk of diabetes while brown rice reduces it, a study has found.

Switching from white to brown can lower the chances of developing the disease by 16 per cent, say researchers.

Replacing white rice with all kinds of whole grain foods – which include brown rice and pasta, wholemeal bread and rolled oats – was associated with a risk reduction as great as 36 per cent.

A team from the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston compared diabetes risk in 200,000 people, by looking at how much white or brown rice they ate and making adjustments for age and other lifestyle factors. The study is published in Archives of Internal Medicine.

Brown rice contains the outer bran and germ portions of the grains which are stripped away to produce starchy white rice. Like other whole grain foods, brown rice takes longer to raise blood sugar levels than "high glycaemic" refined products.

More than 70 per cent of the rice consumed in developed countries is white. Around 2 million people in the UK have type 2 diabetes.