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Who says you can not eat red meat? Renewed nutritional advice

NEW YORK (AP) – Is red meat good or bad for you? If only the answer were that easy.

A team of international researchers has recently shaken the food world, claiming that there is not enough evidence to instruct people to cut red or processed meat, which seems to contradict the recommendations of prominent health professionals and groups including the American Cancer Society and the American Heart Association.

However, the researchers did not say that people should eat more meat or that it is healthy. No new studies have been conducted and no new understanding of the effects of meat on the body has been reported. Instead, the contributions offer a new approach to nutrition and health advice ̵

1; and a rebuke of how it is often done.

The dispute contains only problems with nutrition research, which has long been recognized in the scientific world: Nutrition studies are almost never conclusive. and whatever the perceived risk and benefits of food are often too simplistic.

"People like the guidance of bumper stickers," Dr. Walter Willett, a professor of nutrition at Harvard, who has led studies to link meat to poor health. [19659002] Health experts are now wrestling with sound scientific evidence before guidelines are issued, how prejudices can be addressed, that conclusions can be distorted, and whether the enjoyment of food should be considered.

The exam is likely to spill over to others Diet counseling as obesity is becoming an increasingly critical public health concern, and people are becoming increasingly frustrated with flip flops.


The newspaper s analyzed earlier studies on red and processed meat and generally confirmed the links to cancer, heart disease, and other harmful consequences. But they said that the likelihood of eating less is low or negligible.

For example, the reduction of red meat by three servings per week has been associated with seven fewer deaths from cancer per 1,000 people. For some other health measures, such as strokes, the difference was smaller or nonexistent.

The researchers also stated that the differences were due to the low certainty of meat.

In nutrition research there is often uncertainty. Many nutrition and health studies are based on contexts researchers make between human health and what they say they eat. But that does not prove that one causes the other. For example, if a thin person loves cereal and eats almost every day, it does not mean that cereal is the reason why he is skinny.

Health experts defending the Council to cut meat say that researchers have used an unreasonable standard – assessing the strength of post mortems with a methodology for medical studies in which a certain dose of the drug can be tested under controlled conditions ,

From a nutritional perspective, it is impossible to conduct studies that monitor and control the diet and lifestyle of people over long periods of time. They say that the statistical signals they see in nutritional studies are meaningful and that people should be given guidelines on the best available data.


If it is true that there are seven fewer cancer deaths per 1,000 people eating less red meat, then 993 of these people would not see this benefit even if they eat fewer burgers. [19659002] For many public health experts, the potential for these seven deaths is a broad recommendation for limiting meat. In the entire population, the numbers could add up to many lives saved.

However, the question arises where to draw the line and at what point in time the potential benefit is too small and too uncertain to ask people to change their behavior. [19659002] The authors also argue that the person asked to change their behavior should be considered. For those who regularly eat and enjoy meat, it may seem drastic if they are given a low risk, if any.

"Recommendations should take into account the values ​​and preferences of people who actually carry something the consequences," said Bradley Johnston, lead author of the article, which specializes in research methods.


Given the nutritional uncertainties, another long-term problem is that the results may be distorted personal beliefs or financial incentives.

The latest releases were no exception. Critics and advocates each pointed to factors that could influence the position of others.

Critics stated that Johnston, the lead author, has undermined another nutritional recommendation in the newspaper past. Prior to that, he ran a food-borne study that called into question guidelines for limiting added sugars, which served the interests of many food companies. This article initially stated that the authors had written the plan for the study independently. After emails received from Associated Press showed that the industry group had sent "requested revisions", the paper was corrected to say that the group had reviewed the plan and approved humans long advised the meat and feel the need to defend their position.

The back and forth underscores the difficulty of eliminating the prejudices that a researcher may face given the amount of industrial food research and the strong belief people often have about food.

Meat is a particularly polarizing topic in the light of animal welfare and the associated environmental consequences.

This could further confuse people who or what they should believe or just focus on research that confirms what they want to believe.


Wherever researchers focus on meat, there is a consensus that the nuances of nutritional science are often lost. Foods are often considered good or bad, even if researchers try to nuance themselves.

Take red meat. The advice to limit the risk often does not indicate how much it is that could cause people to think about cuts. But in poorer countries, red meat can help improve nutrition. In richer countries, Willett said, the benefits of reducing would vary, depending on what replaced it, and this pizza could not be an improvement.

Still, Willett and others who criticized last week's papers say the many Americans who eat red meat one day or more could benefit from eating less.

There is no consistent recommendation for an acceptable amount. The experts of the American Cancer Society say "a few" servings a week or less. A study by Willett, which also looked at the impact of food on the environment, recommended a weekly serving. However, most recognize that better communication of nuances and uncertainties can help to avoid mistrust and confusion.

WHAT SHOULD WE EAT? The reason is that people eat too much pasta and biscuits.

In recent years, the guidelines have focused on the saturated fatty acids in foods such as meat, butter and some packaged foods. They should be limited to 10% of calories

As advice on specific foods changes, health professionals have become increasingly focused on the importance of the overall diet. A note that focuses on individual foods, often containing a complex nutrient mixture, may also distract from a simpler message: do not eat too much, because if you eat more calories than you burn, you're gaining weight.

"If everyone would Just make sure we solve a lot of problems," said Marion Nestle, professor of nutrition and food policy at New York University.


This Associated Press series was co-produced with the Department of Science Education of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. The content is the sole responsibility of the AP.

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