The research, published in Diabetologia (the journal of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes), examined the diet and lifestyle factors of nearly 260,000 participants in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC) study without known diabetes, and 6,384 diabetic participants.
They looked at overall mortality risk factors, including smoking, alcohol consumption, BMI, waist/height ratio, leisure time physical activity and 26 food groups. They found that diabetes status did not have a significant impact on the effect of lifestyle factors.
For dietary factors, they found that the same foods contributed to increased and decreased mortality risk regardless of diabetes status, but the effect was greater for those with diabetes.
The authors said: "It appears that the intake of some food groups is more beneficial (fruits, legumes, nuts, seeds, pasta, poultry, vegetable oil) or more detrimental (soft drinks, butter, margarine, cake, cookies) with respect to mortality risk in people with diabetes. This may indicate that individuals with diabetes may benefit more from a healthy diet than people without diabetes. However, since the directions of association were generally the same, recommendations for a healthy diet should be similar for people with or without diabetes."
The results also backed the current recommendation that people with diabetes could safely consume alcohol within the upper recommended limits. Those with diabetes who exercised had an “appreciably lower” risk of death than inactive people, the researchers found.
The full paper is available online here (pdf).