The aim of the present study is to assess the comparative efficacy of different dietary approaches on glycaemic control in patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus using a systematic review of the literature. Electronic and hand searches were performed until July 2017. The inclusion criteria were defined as follows: (1) randomized trial with a dietary approach; (2) adults with type 2 diabetes mellitus; (3) outcome either HbA1c (%) and/or fasting glucose (mmol/l); (4) minimum intervention period of 12 weeks.
For each outcome measure, random effects network meta-analysis was performed in order to determine the pooled effect of each intervention relative to each of the other interventions. A total of 56 trials comparing nine dietary approaches (low-fat, Vegetarian, Mediterranean, high-protein, moderate-carbohydrate, low-carbohydrate, control, low GI/GL, Palaeolithic) enrolling 4937 participants were included.
For reducing HbA1c, the low-carbohydrate diet was ranked as the best dietary approach (SUCRA: 84%), followed by the Mediterranean diet (80%) and Palaeolithic diet (76%) compared to a control diet. For reducing fasting glucose, the Mediterranean diet (88%) was ranked as the best approach, followed by Palaeolithic diet (71%) and Vegetarian diet (63%).
The network analysis also revealed that all dietary approaches significantly reduce HbA1c (− 0.82 to − 0.47% reduction) and fasting glucose (− 1.61 to − 1.00 mmol/l reduction) compared to a control diet. According to the network meta-analysis the Mediterranean diet is the most effective and efficacious dietary approach to improve glycaemic control in type 2 diabetes patients.