Rice is important carbohydrate source that may be the cause of diabetic and obesity.

It is not that our eating habits have changed in the recent past. Our fathers and grandfathers had also consumed rice. But the kind of rice they consumed and what we consume today are totally different,”

The rice that we get today is the highly refined and polished variety. “The more polished the rice, the more glycaemic index (GI) it would have, The GI indicates the glucose-raising effect of a food.

Polishing removes the bran and the germ. While the bran contains fibre, protein and vitamin B-complex; polished rice has only starch, which is nothing but carbohydrate.


The only good news is that increased consumer awareness of the ill-effects of various food items has made many companies produce healthier food products. Rice that is relatively less polished is now available in the market. Similarly, many products made from whole-wheat are available.

A study was conducted by the Dr. Mohan’s Diabetes Specialities Centre, Chennai on the direct link between white polished rice intake and the prevalence of diabetes in India. The study was part of the Chennai Urban Rural Epidemiology Study (CURES). The CURE study, started in 2001, is an epidemiologic study involving 26,000 individuals of a representative population of Chennai to estimate the prevalence of diabetes and its complications in urban Indians and to identify the risk factors for non-communicable diseases (NCDs).

This particular study to test the link between white rice and diabetes included 1843 participants who were unaware of the status of their diabetes. They were tested and their food habits recorded prior to the study and correlated to their body mass index, age and lifestyle choices, The risk factors far diabetes are diet, lifestyle and genetic predisposition to the illness. As the study proceeded, it became clear that those who ate more polished rice were more likely to have diabetes.


“What we found was, as the amount of rice consumption increased, the consumption of other food items, like fruits and vegetables, legumes and dairy products became less,” said Dr. Mohan “ We found a link not just between carbohydrate consumption and diabetes but the kind of carbohydrate consumed and its effect,” said Dr.Mohan.


Our eating habits have not changed. What has changed are the quantity and quality of rice that we are eating. The more polished the rice, the higher its Glycaemic index. Polishing the rice removes the bran and the germ, which contain fibre, protein and Vitamin B Complex, all of which are important to the overall value of rice. Foods with high GI trigger sharp increase in blood glucose followed by a dratmatic fall, which causes hunger pangs, with the result that people feel hungry more often, eat more often and larger portions.


India has around 40 million diabetics. This number is expected to rise to 70 million by 2025. It is imperative therefore, that not only individuals, but doctors, Hospitals, Public Health Institutions and the Government take note of such research findings.