Diabetes Self-Management Blog

Eating two or more daily servings of white bread can increase a person’s risk for obesity by 40%, according to a preliminary study presented at the 2014 European Congress on Obesity in Bulgaria. More than one-third of adults in the United States are obese and roughly another third are overweight, putting them at increased risk for developing Type 2 diabetes.

To evaluate the relationship between white bread consumption and obesity, researchers at the University of Navarra in Spain monitored the eating habits and weight of 9,267 Spanish university graduates over the course of five years.

The data showed that people whose only bread consumption came in the form of white bread and who consumed two or more portions a day of the bread were 40% more likely to become overweight or obese than people who ate less than one portion of white bread a week, with fully one-fifth of people who ate six or more slices of white bread every day becoming overweight or obese.

No link was found between eating only whole-grain bread or between eating a combination of both white and whole-grain bread and becoming overweight or obese — perhaps because of the types of carbohydrate and the fiber content in whole-grain bread, the researchers suggest.

“When you use refined flour for making bread, you lose the bran and the germ, and you lose essential nutritious components for the diet, such as vitamins. [Fiber] slows the absorption of sugars, but refined bread is almost like a bomb of sugar,” noted Martinez-Gonzalez. “The problem is similar to what we see with soft drinks, their sugars are rapidly transformed into fat [in] an organism,” he added.

The researchers recommended switching from white to whole-grain bread, particularly for people who are trying to lose weight.

Although the study showed an association between eating white bread and obesity, it did not establish cause and effect. Also, because the research has not yet been peer-reviewed, its findings should be considered preliminary.

For more information, read the article “Eating White Bread Can Increase Risk for Obesity By 40%.” And to learn more about managing your weight with diabetes, click here.


  1. I cannot say that I agree with the findings here. In my family we all ate tons of white bread, it was what we ate to fill up and the kids snacked on between meals. We probably each ate a half loaf a day. My uncles, grandfather and cousins are all very lean (6′2″ under 200 pounds) and never had any weight issues.
    I think today it is more the additives that are found in the grocery breads. My son had warts all over his hands and they would not go away. I started making all of our bread (white) but used unbleached flour and no preservatives. Withing 2 months all of his warts were gone. I have heard many other moms experience this when they remove the grocery bread from their family’s diets.

    Posted by Lynn |
  2. There is a whole bunch of stuff that ups the blood sugar namely ANYTHING processed that comes in a box or package. If it ain’t vegetables (excluding starchy) and fruits (minus dried or extremely sugar dense fruits) and water, it ain’t no good for ya! Any kind if bread will raise the blood sugar. People think that because it is so-called 100W% whole wheat or ‘whole grain’ it is somehow ‘good’ for you! Don’t believe the hype. Do yourself a favor and only eat these things in extreme moderation. No flour, starch or sugar and preferable no processed foods at all for me and that is what keeps my levels in an acceptable range.

    Posted by Terri |
  3. Excuse typos in my previous post…please add an ‘edit’ feature for those of us who are obsessive/compulsive perfectionists, lol!

    Posted by Terri |
  4. Be careful defining “white bread.” Most of the products sold in the bread isle use the same formula as white bread with a little whole-grain thrown in for effect. A good rule of thumb is, if the bread is soft, it’s not very good for you.

    Posted by Joe |
  5. My experience as an insulin dependent diabetic just begs to ask how the researchers came up with these results. Pretty much most whole grain based bread will sure raise your blood sugar really fast. Well unless my glucose meter is different than everybody elses.
    Certainly will agree that whole grain bread is better for you, but still packed with fast acting carbohydrates which will add weight fast on a high carb diet… we won’t even talk about trying to control your numbers.

    When I was young we eat a lot of bread (mostly white) but we sure didn’t follow a low fat diet and weight wasn’t a problem for most of us. I don’t eat bread any more for better diabetic control. My weight is normal.

    Really is too simplistic to ever get the so-called results from this research just by substituting whole grain bread and white bread — what else was different in the diets?

    Posted by JohnC |
  6. I agree with this article. White bread has zero redeeming features. If you have to have bread choose whole grain or wheat.In a nut shell anything processed is detrimental to your health period full stop.

    Posted by Martin Cunningham |
  7. This is OLD news. My Grandma back in the 70’s created a cookbook, No Refined Carbohydrates. The biggest offender was white bread. Reader’s Digest has a cookbook that was released a couple years saying the same thing. White Bread has a VERY bad glycemic index and should be eaten in moderation as compared to other breads like Sourdough or whole grain breads.
    It’s good to know that the Scientific Community is FINDING coming on board with what people knew 40 years ago.

    Posted by Gerald K. |
  8. I hear eating whole grain “stuff” may actually be WORSE than eating white “stuff” because of the rancid oils contained in the whole seed.

    That makes sense to me, unless they grind the seeds, and very quickly mix in the bread and baked immediately these oils get rancid very fast. I think starting in 15 minutes, not sure.

    So made me think what really is healthy?

    Posted by Beano |

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