One egg a day increases the risk of developing diabetes by 60%, study warns 

Eating just one egg a day increases your risk of developing type 2 diabetes by 60 per cent, according to a new study. 

Australian researchers who studied a sample of 8,545 Chinese adults found a positively correlation between higher egg consumption and high blood sugar levels.  

Eggs are versatile and nutritious and are promoted as a ‘healthy fast food’ in the UK, but have proved the ultimate conundrum for diabetes researchers.

Previous studies have indicated that eating eggs can actually keep diabetes at bay. 

This new research suggests regular consumption of an egg a day – either boiled, scrambled, poached or fried – makes you more prone to the condition, which occurs when a person’s blood sugar is too high.

The health benefit of eating eggs regularly isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, according to researchers who studied a sample of Chinese adults. 


Diabetes is a disease that occurs when your blood glucose, also called blood sugar, is too high. Blood glucose is your main source of energy and comes from the food you eat.

There are two main types of diabetes: 

Type 1, where the body’s immune system attacks and destroys the cells that produce insulin, which helps your body use glucose for energy. 

Type 2, where the body does not produce enough insulin, or the body’s cells do not react to insulin. 

Type 2 diabetes is far more common than Type 1. 

In the UK, around 90% of all adults with diabetes have Type 2.

‘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,’ said study author Dr Ming Li at the University of South Australia.

‘While the association between eating eggs and diabetes is often debated, this study has aimed to assess people’s long-term egg consumption of eggs and their risk of developing diabetes.’  

The study specifically focused on people in China, which has undergone a transition away from a traditional diet comprising grains and vegetables, to a more processed diet that includes greater amounts of meat, snacks and eggs, according to Dr Li. 

From 1991 to 2009, the number of people eating eggs in China nearly doubled – from 16 grams in 1991-93, to 26 grams in 2000-04 and 31 grams in 2009.  

Diabetes was responsible for at least $760 billion in health expenditure in 2019 – 10 per cent of the global total spent on healthcare.

While in China, diabetes-related costs have exceeded $109 billion. 

For the study, Dr Li and her team analysed data on the adults 8,545 adults who attended the China Health and Nutrition Survey from 1991 to 2009.

China Health and Nutrition Survey is an ongoing survey backed by the US government’s Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CCDC) that aims to examine the effects of the health policies and nutrition in China. 

Diabetes is a disease that occurs when your blood glucose, also called blood sugar, is too high. Blood glucose is your main source of energy and comes from the food you eat

Diabetes is a disease that occurs when your blood glucose, also called blood sugar, is too high. Blood glucose is your main source of energy and comes from the food you eat 


Fasting blood sugar test involves a blood sample being taken after an overnight fast. 

A fasting blood sugar level less than 100 milligrams per decilitre (mg/dL) is normal. 

A fasting blood sugar level from 100 to 125 mg/dL is considered pre-diabetes. 

Pre-diabetes occurs when blood sugar levels are higher than normal and often leads to type 2 diabetes.  

If it’s 126 mg/dL or higher on two separate tests, it indicates diabetes. 

Participants had their egg consumption habits recorded, while diabetes was diagnosed based on a fasting blood sugar test in 2009. 

High long-term egg consumption – greater than 38 grams per day – increased the risk of diabetes among Chinese adults by around 25 per cent, the team found. 

But adults who ate more than 50 grams, or equivalent to one egg, per day had an increased risk of diabetes by 60 per cent.

The link was also more pronounced in women than in men, suggesting women are more at risk of diabetes if they regularly eat eggs.    

Dr Li said more research is needed to explore causal relationships – whether they can prove egg eating is the cause of diabetes.  

‘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,’ she said.

‘This study is one step towards that long-term goal.’ 

Last year, researchers in Finland found the exact opposite – that eating one egg a day may lower the risk of type 2 diabetes.

Testing men, they found that those who ate a daily egg had a certain lipid profile in their blood which is common among men who never develop the disease.

However, the authors, from the University of East Finland, admitted that the link between the two factors was still unclear. 

In 2015, researchers from the very same university found that egg consumption was associated with a lower risk of type 2 diabetes as well as with lower blood glucose levels.

Men who ate approximately four eggs per week had a 37 per cent lower risk of type 2 diabetes than men who only ate approximately one egg per week.  

Jyrki Virtanen, adjunct professor of nutritional epidemiology, University of Eastern Finland, said there was little previous scientific evidence either way on eggs and diabetes risk.

He said: ‘There is no experimental data available on the effects of egg consumption on the incidence of type 2 diabetes.’

However, there’s still the possibility that heavy egg consumption raises the risk of developing diabetes for people who don’t have it. 

Eggs contain 187mg of cholesterol, and official guidelines recommend that people with diabetes cap their daily cholesterol limit at 200mg. 

Eggs are also high in protein – about seven grams per egg – which our body turns to glucose if we consume too much of it. 

American Diabetes Association, meanwhile, recommends that people who already have diabetes eat eggs. 

Each egg contains around 0.5 grams of carbohydrates, which, in theory, keeps blood sugar in check.