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Red meat and Type 2 diabetes

In response to a review published in the journal, Advances in Nutrition, which suggested that high intakes of processed red meat were associated with an increased risk of type 2 diabetes, Dr Carrie Ruxton from the Meat Advisory Panel commented, “Red meat is a key source of iron and zinc in the British diet, nutrients that are lacking in some groups. Red meat is also a rich source of B vitamins. This new review evaluated old survey data, mainly from the US, which linked high intakes of processed meat with type 2 diabetes. The authors speculated that iron intakes boosted inflammation leading to diabetes; and that substances produced during the cooking of meat were a cause of diabetes. However, no evidence from human studies was provided to support these views.”

Dr Ruxton adds, “In addition, it is worth noting that butter, olive oil, almonds and cheese contain far more AGE than red meat (up to four times more in the case of butter). Also, beef provides similar amounts of AGE to chicken. Therefore, AGE are found in many foods, some of which contain far higher amounts than red meat. On the point about iron intakes, here in the UK we have a problem with low, not high, iron intakes. Around 30% of young women have low iron stores, while 10% of females are iron deficient. Intakes of iron across the board are either similar to, or lower than, recommended daily amounts. Low intakes of red meat increase the risk of iron deficiency. Type 2 diabetes is a multifactorial disease with the main risk factors identified as obesity, age, physical inactivity and generic inheritance. There is no evidence from controlled studies in humans that red or processed meat intake increases the risk.”

The Department of Health has already identified how much meat is appropriate for health. People are recommended to have no more than 500g per week cooked meat (which equates to 70g per day). This includes both lean and processed meat. Surveys show that, on average, Brits eat 72g of red and processed meat per day suggesting that, in the UK, we are eating the right amount of meat.


Published in Diabetes and diet
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