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Meat hazards may be through body fat

Wednesday March 3rd 2021

Meat eaters may suffer from increased health risks mainly because they carry more body fat than others, researchers reported today.

Dr Keren Papier of the University of Oxford, UK, analysed findings from 474,985 middle-aged adults in the UK Biobank study, who gave dietary information between 2006 and 2010. They were monitored until 2017 for 25 major causes of non-cancerous hospital admissions.

The participants were categorised into four groups by frequency of meat intake at the start of the study. Those who ate more meat were more likely than low meat-eaters to smoke, drink alcohol, be overweight or obese, and eat less fruit and vegetables, fibre, and fish.

The findings were complex and related to the type of meat eaten and a range of other health factors. Details of the study appeared yesterday (2 March) in BMC Medicine.

Overall, those who ate meat three or more times per week tended to have "more adverse health behaviours and characteristics" including heart disease and diabetes, but these links "were substantially attenuated after adjustment for body mass index".

They write that the results suggest "residual confounding or mediation by adiposity might account for some of these associations".

Higher consumption of unprocessed red meat and poultry meat were associated with a lower risk of iron deficiency anaemia - the risk was 17% to 20% lower for every 50g per day intake of meat, depending on the type of meat.

Dr Keren Papier commented: "Additional research is needed to evaluate whether the differences in risk we observed in relation to meat intake reflect causal relationships.

"The result that meat consumption is associated with a lower risk of iron-deficiency anaemia, however, indicates that people who do not eat meat need to be careful that they obtain enough iron, through dietary sources or supplements."

Papier, K. et al. Meat consumption and risk of 25 common conditions: outcome-wide analyses in 475,000 men and women in the UK Biobank study. BMC Medicine 2 March 2020; doi: 10.1186/s12916-021-01922-9


Tags: Diet & Food | General Health | UK News

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