Rice is just a microcosm..
Rice is just a microcosm for any starch that would include rice,
potatoes, cereals, pasta, and most breads. Whatever name we give
them is mostly irrelevant. Once you start eating and digesting them
they turn nearly completely into glucose, a sugar (and that is
particularly true of rice and potatoes), and eating sugar is bad
for you. Eating and digesting food is just preparing it, and
chopping it into tiny molecular pieces to feed to your cells. It is
the repercussions of your cells eating glucose, that is largely to
blame for the worldwide epidemic of diabetes, obesity, and other
chronic diseases of aging. Eating sugar should in no way be
considered healthy. Very robust science has shown this to increase
cellular damage and impair insulin and leptin signaling, all of
which have been well shown to contribute to virtually all chronic
disease and accelerated aging.
China and India consume among the highest quantities of rice per capita, and also have among the highest rates of disease in the world including diabetes and heart disease. That does not mean that eating rice is the sole cause of their health problems, any more than eating rice is the cause of being healthy in those societies that are perceived to be. As I have said frequently, population studies are perhaps the least accurate scientific method to derive any conclusions from, as there are so many unaccountable variables. For instance, in those cultures that appear healthy and in which rice is a part of their culinary habits, their total dietary consumption is generally lower and the people's higher rate of activity burn off the sugar prior to doing excessive damage. Using individuals as examples of health is also fraught with potential inaccuracies. Jean Calment, who had the longest confirmed human life span in history, died at age 122 and had smoked since she was 11 years old. I would still be wary of recommending smoking to improve health...