Nutrition Group: OK to Continue Red Meat Consumption

Here’s the full text study: Unprocessed Red Meat and Processed Meat Consumption: Dietary Guideline Recommendations From the Nutritional Recommendations (NutriRECS) Consortium (Published: Ann Intern Med. 2019. DOI: 10.7326/M19-1621)

In the same issue, there are several studies and an associated commentary: Meat Consumption and Health: Food for Thought by Aaron Carroll and Tiffany Doherty.

  • The recommendations from this study relate to the health effects of meat consumption.  Considerations of environmental impact or animal welfare did not bear on the recommendations.
  • “We developed the Nutritional Recommendations (NutriRECS) international consortium to produce rigorous evidence-based nutritional recommendations adhering to trustworthiness standards…”
  • “We suggest that individuals continue their current consumption of both unprocessed red meat and processed meat (both weak recommendations, low-certainty evidence).”
  • “Despite our findings from our assessment of intake studies versus dietary pattern studies suggesting that unprocessed red meat and processed meat are unlikely to be causal factors for adverse health outcomes (131416), this does not preclude the possibility that meat has a very small causal effect.”
  • “Other dietary guidelines and position statements suggest limiting consumption of red and processed meat because of the reported association with cancer (1244–46).”
  • “In terms of how to interpret our weak recommendation, it indicates that the panel believed that for the majority of individuals, the desirable effects (a potential lowered risk for cancer and cardiometabolic outcomes) associated with reducing meat consumption probably do not outweigh the undesirable effects (impact on quality of life, burden of modifying cultural and personal meal preparation and eating habits). The weak recommendation reflects the panel’s awareness that values and preferences differ widely, and that as a result, a minority of fully informed individuals will choose to reduce meat consumption.”**

A useful commentary from the NY Times: Eat less Red Meat, Scientists Said. Now Some Believe That Was Bad Advice.

An excerpt:

{According to the new report] If there are health benefits from eating less beef and pork, they are small, the researchers concluded. Indeed, the advantages are so faint that they can be discerned only when looking at large populations, the scientists said, and are not sufficient to tell individuals to change their meat-eating habits

Already they have been met with fierce criticism by public health researchers. The American Heart Association, the American Cancer Society, the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and other groups have savaged the findings…

Dr. Hu, of Harvard, in a commentary published online with his colleagues. Studies of red meat as a health hazard may have been problematic, he said, but the consistency of the conclusions over years gives them credibility…

Questions of personal health do not even begin to address the environmental degradation caused worldwide by intensive meat production. Meat and dairy are big contributors to climate change, with livestock production accounting for about 14.5 percent of the greenhouse gases that humans emit worldwide each year.

My take:  Though the title says it is ‘OK to Continue Red Meat Consumption’ –overall, my suspicion is that limiting red meat is probably good for one’s health, though the effect is probably small.

**After publication of these guidelines, it was subsequently revealed that lead author had not disclosed previous research ties to meat and food industry.  See Here: Scientist Who Discredited Meat Guidelines…

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Disclaimer: These blog posts are for educational purposes only. Specific dosing of medications/diets (along with potential adverse effects) should be confirmed by prescribing physician/nutritionist.  This content is not a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment provided by a qualified healthcare provider. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a condition.

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