Scrambled, poached or boiled, eggs are a popular breakfast food the world over but new research warns that excess egg consumption can increase your risk of diabetes.
The study found that people who regularly consumed one or more eggs per day (equivalent to 50 grams) increased their risk of diabetes by 60 per cent and the effect was more pronounced in women than in men.
Conducted in partnership with the China Medical University, and Qatar University, the longitudinal study (1991 to 2009) led by University of South Australia is the first to assess egg consumption in a large sample of Chinese adults.
Epidemiologist and public health expert Ming Li said the rise of diabetes is a growing concern.
"Diet is a known and modifiable factor that contributes to the onset of Type 2 diabetes, so understanding the range of dietary factors that might impact the growing prevalence of the disease is important," Ming said.
Over the past few decades, China has undergone a substantial nutritional transition that's seen many people move away from a traditional diet comprising grains and vegetables, to a more processed diet that includes greater amounts of meat, snacks and energy-dense food.
"At the same time, egg consumption has also been steadily increasing; from 1991 to 2009, the number of people eating eggs in China nearly doubled," he said in a paper published in the British Journal of Nutrition.
While the association between eating eggs and diabetes is often debated, this study aims to assess people's long-term egg consumption of eggs and their risk of developing diabetes, as determined by fasting blood glucose.
"What we discovered was that higher long-term egg consumption (greater than 38 grams per day) increased the risk of diabetes among Chinese adults by approximately 25 per cent.
"Furthermore, adults who regularly ate a lot of eggs (over 50 grams, or equivalent to one egg, per day) had an increased risk of diabetes by 60 per cent," Ming claimed.
While these results suggest that higher egg consumption is positively associated with the risk of diabetes in Chinese adults, more research is needed to explore causal relationships.
"To beat diabetes, a multi-faceted approach is needed that not only encompasses research, but also a clear set of guidelines to help inform and guide the public. This study is one step towards that long-term goal," the authors wrote.
The study population comprised 8,545 adults (average age 50 years) participating in the China Health and Nutrition Survey.