Study Shows Eating More Red Meat Over Time Linked to Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus


"There have been recent studies on the benefits of the vegetarian diet, all pointing towards reductions in meat as a way to improve outcomes, or in this case, risk of diabetes," said Christopher P. Cannon, MD, FACC.

Eating more red meat over time is associated with an increased risk of type 2 diabetes mellitus according to a study published June 17 in JAMA: Internal Medicine.

The study looked at three prospective cohort studies with 149,143 U.S. men and women, of which 7,540 had documented cases of type 2 diabetes mellitus. Results showed that during 1,965,824 person-years of follow-up, increasing red meat intake by more than 0.50 servings per day was associated with a 48 percent (pooled hazard ratio, 1.48; 95 percent confidence interval [CI], 1.37-1.59) elevated risk in the subsequent four-year period. The association was modestly attenuated after further adjustment for initial body mass index and concurrent weight gain (1.30; 95 percent CI, 1.21-1.41). Additionally, reducing the amount of red meat consumed by more than 0.50 servings per day during a four year period showed a 14 percent (pooled hazard ratio, 0.86 percent; 95 percent CI, 0.80-0.93) lower risk.


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According to the study authors, "the present study demonstrated that a relatively short-term (four-years) increase in red meat consumption is associated with subsequent risk, even in individuals who initially consumed low amounts of red meat."

"To our knowledge, this study is the first to investigate the association between changes in red meat intake and subsequent type 2 diabetes mellitus risk. Our results are largely consistent with previous reports but extend the finding to suggest that increasing red meat intake is followed by an elevated risk of type 2 diabetes mellitus in short-term (four years) and long-term (12-16 years) period," they add.

In a related editorial comment, William J. Evans, PhD, notes, "a recommendation to consume less red meat may help to reduce the epidemic of type 2 diabetes mellitus. However, the overwhelming preponderance of molecular, cellular, clinical, and epidemiologic evidence suggests that public health messages should be directed toward the consumption of high quality protein that is low in total and saturated fat."

Keywords: Risk, Follow-Up Studies, Body Mass Index, Diet, Vegetarian, Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2, Confidence Intervals, Weight Gain, Meat

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