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Open Access Research article

Betel nut chewing and incidence of newly diagnosed type 2 diabetes mellitus in Taiwan.

Chin-Hsiao Tseng

Author Affiliations

National Taiwan University College of Medicine, Taipei, Taiwan

Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism, Department of Internal Medicine, National Taiwan University Hospital, Taipei, Taiwan

Division of Environmental Health and Occupational Medicine of the National Health Research Institutes, Taipei, Taiwan

BMC Research Notes 2010, 3:228  doi:10.1186/1756-0500-3-228

Published: 17 August 2010



Betel nut chewing is associated with type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) in a recent prevalence study in Taiwan. The present study further investigated its link with the incidence of newly diagnosed T2DM during the years 1992-1996.


Population-based datasets of a sample of 93,484 out of 256,036 diabetic patients from 66 medical settings using the National Health Insurance scheme covering > 96% of the population, published population prevalence of betel nut chewing and the governmental census of national population were used for calculation of odds ratios, incidence rates and incidence rate ratios between chewers and never-chewers in the male population for the year 1992 to 1996.


Ever chewers among the diabetic patients were younger, more obese and had higher prevalence of parental diabetes than never-chewers (all p values < 0.001). Odds ratios for T2DM for ever chewers vs. never-chewers in the age of < 40, 40-49, 50-59, 60-69 and ≥70 years were 1.06 (0.92-1.23), 1.60 (1.45-1.76), 2.12 (1.88-2.39), 3.58 (3.10-4.13) and 7.14 (5.47-9.31), respectively. In 1996, incidence rates (per 100,000 population) in the respective age groups were 19.1, 251.5, 567.3, 721.7 and 971.4 for never-chewers; and were 30.2, 520.9, 2566.9, 11672.8 and 630.3 for ever chewers. The respective incidence rate ratios were 1.58, 2.07, 4.52, 16.17 and 0.65. The age-specific incidence rates and rate ratios were relatively consistent from 1992 to 1996. The differences in obesity and parental diabetes between ever chewers and never-chewers were mostly not statistically significant after age stratification, suggesting the link could not be attributed to these two factors.


Chewing betel nut is associated with newly diagnosed T2DM, supporting the suggestion that the habit is diabetogenic.