Thanks to the rising popularity of Greek yogurt and the number of health benefits linked to the dairy, yogurt has been the breakfast of choice lately for many Americans. Consumers are flocking to grocery stores to pick up their thick, albeit expensive yogurts courtesy of vendors like Chobani, Oikos, and Fage, and dairy product revenue, estimated at $463.7 billion in 2013, is expected to grow by more than 46 percent through 2018, as reported by Bloomberg.
There is an obvious uptick in demand for yogurt, not only in the U.S., but also especially in the Middle East and Africa, and one report published Wednesday could even give the yogurt industry another boost it may not necessarily need — but definitely wants.
According to Bloomberg, Diabetologia published a report Thursday that eating yogurt can reduce one’s risk of getting type 2 diabetes by 28 percent, compared with consuming none. The study showed that higher consumption of low-fat fermented dairy products, such as yogurt and some cheeses, also lowered the relative risk of diabetes by 24 percent overall.
While researchers have long studied the possible link between the consumption of dairy and diabetes, until now, their findings have been inconclusive. Dairy products have long been recognized as a good source of protein, vitamins, and minerals, but it wasn’t until Thursday that Diabetologia researchers could say there was a clear association in a reduced diabetes risk when linked to yogurt consumption. Diabetologia is the journal of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes.
According to Bloomberg, the International Diabetes Federation says that diabetes kills one person every six seconds and affects 382 million people worldwide. Researchers have been adamant about determining which foods can lead to a decrease in the risk of a diagnosis, but so far, most of their findings are still in the works. One EPIC-Norfolk study studied more than 25,000 men and women living in Norfolk, England, and Bloomberg says that researchers compared daily records of food and drink consumption among 753 people who developed type 2 diabetes over 11 years of follow-up with 3,502 randomly selected study participants. Researchers then analyzed the risk of diabetes in relation to consumption of total and individual dairy products.
Peter Clifton, head of the Nutritional Interventions Laboratory at Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute, said in a statement via Bloomberg, “There have been several meta analyses putting together all the studies on dairy and type 2 diabetes recently and the data is mixed, but overall they show protection from various forms of dairy including yogurt.”
If consumers latch on to the idea that the consumption of yogurt is a good idea for those at risk for diabetes, the yogurt industry could see a significant upsurge, and companies like Danone, among others, would be poised to benefit. Although Chobani is the top seller of Greek yogurt in the U.S., Danone is the bigger yogurt maker in the world, and the changing understandings about the nutritional value of dairy products are expected to boost both companies’ sales.