MAP blasts ‘contradictory’ study which links red meat consumption to Diabetes

The Meat Advisory Panel (MAP) has criticised a new study which suggests that the consumption of processed red meat increases the risk of type II diabetes, labelling it limited and contradictory. 

The research by the Harvard School of Public Health was published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, which has previously published a large systematic review and meta-analysis of worldwide evidence on meat consumption and chronic diseases and found no link between fresh red meat and type II diabetes.

The new study looked at the medical records of more than 440,000 Americans, using questionnaires to assess diet. It concluded that people who ate more than 100g of red meat on a daily basis were 19% more likely to develop type II diabetes, while 50g of processed meat per day increased the risk by 51%.

However the MAP has criticised the research. Dr Carrie Ruxton, a dietitian and member of the MAP, said: “These opposing findings from the same university raise serious questions about the validity of today’s research.

“Harvard School of Public Health’s research is an observational study and, as such, was not designed to test whether red meat, or any other food item, is a cause of type II diabetes. It simply relies on statistics to blame complex diseases on single food items.

“The limitations of observational studies mean that they only reveal potential associations between disease risk and lifestyles which should then be tested by properly controlled trials before new advice can be given to the public.

“Thanks to modern farming methods, lean cuts of meat are now low in fat and saturated fat, and high in protein. Red meat is also a valuable source of iron, zinc, B-vitamins and vitamin D - nutrients in which many groups are lacking, particularly young women and teenagers.”

The MAP said that the study did not take into account the possibility of other factors which would impact the results, such as the weight, activity levels, fat intake, and high GI diets of the participants. It also pointed out that the average intake of meat in America is around 25% higher than in the UK.

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