New perspectives on the role of dairy in type 2 diabetes


Roughly 90% of Canadians with diabetes are living with type 2 diabetes. Among the different categories of food, there is growing evidence suggesting a protective role of dairy products in diabetes risk. In this podcast by the Canadian Nutrition Society, Dr. Anthony Hanley talks about the current evidence on the relationship between dietary factors and type 2 diabetes, including dietary pattern approaches and the food matrix, and directions for future research.

Nutrition Conversations by the Canadian Nutrition Society
To listen to the podcast
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In this podcast, learn more about:

  • The prevalence and risk factors for type 2 diabetes;
  • The relationship between type 2 diabetes and nutrition, including overall diet quality and specific food categories such as dairy:
    • The importance of considering the whole food matrix and food combinations.

Key takeaways:

  • Certain foods, food categories, and dietary patterns have been associated with a decreased risk of type 2 diabetes, including dairy, fruits and vegetables, whole grains, as well as the DASH and the Mediterranean Diets:
  • Research on the association between diet and type 2 diabetes is increasingly shifting towards a dietary patterns approach to consider the total diet:
    • The health effects of a food can be modulated by its food matrix as well as food combinations within a meal;
    • Dairy foods have a complex food matrix, which includes unique combinations of different proteins, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, and bioactive compounds.
  • Findings from meta-analyses indicate that dairy, including full-fat dairy, has a neutral or protective effect on the risk of developing type 2 diabetes:
    • The association between yogurt intake and a reduced risk of type 2 diabetes is particularly well documented.
Anthony Hanley, PhD


Department of Nutritional Sciences
University of Toronto

Dr. Hanley received his PhD in Epidemiology in 2000 from the University of Toronto. He subsequently completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Texas Health Sciences Centre in San Antonio. From 2002-2005, Dr. Hanley was a Research Scientist at the Leadership Sinai Centre for Diabetes at Mt. Sinai Hospital, Toronto. Since 2005, Dr. Hanley has been a faculty member in the Department of Nutritional Sciences, University of Toronto, where he teaches, conducts research, and supervises graduate students. His research is supported by the Canadian Institutes for Health Research, Dairy Farmers of Canada, and the University of Toronto Banting and Best Diabetes Centre.

Dr. Hanley’s research interests include the metabolic and nutritional epidemiology of type 2 diabetes and its underlying physiological traits, including obesity, insulin resistance and pancreatic beta cell dysfunction. His work focuses on longitudinal cohorts of understudied high-risk populations, including Indigenous Canadians, those of African and Hispanic origin, and non-diabetic subjects who are otherwise at very high risk of progression to diabetes, including those with pre-diabetes or the metabolic syndrome. For over 25 years, Dr. Hanley has had the privilege of working closely with Indigenous partners to address the heavy burden of type 2 diabetes in that population using a variety of approaches.