Type 2 diabetes link to red meat

Swapping protein source can have big health impact

The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition has published a new study from the Harvard School of Public Health, showing a strong association between red meat consumption (particularly processed meat) and an increased risk of type 2 diabetes. After adjusting for factors such as age, BMI and other lifestyle/diet risk factors, a daily 100g serving of unprocessed red meat is associated with a 19 per cent increased risk of diabetes – and just 50g daily of processed meat (equivalent to two slices of bacon) was associated with a 51 per cent greater risk.

However, replacing the meat protein with healthier options reduces the risk: were an individual who eats one daily serving of red meat to substitute it for one serving of nuts per day, the risk of diabetes falls by 21 per cent, substituting low-fat dairy leads to a 17 per cent lower risk; and substituting whole grains leads to a 23 per cent lower risk.

The study is the largest of its kind to date in terms of sample size and follow-up years – it is based on responses from over 200,000 people in the two Nurses’ Health Studies and the Health Professionals Follow-up Study, combined with data from existing studies for a total of over 440,000 people, of whom 28,000 developed type 2 diabetes during the study period. It is also among the first to estimate the reduction in risk of type 2 diabetes associated with substituting healthier protein choices for the red or processed meat.

Source: Stone Hearth News, 11 August 2011.