Does Eating Red Meat Increase the Risk of Developing Type 2 Diabetes?

Eating meat questions concept or diet and nutrition decisions as a red steak with a question mark cut out of the raw food with aIn a study, researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health examined whether there is a link between eating processed red meat and unprocessed red meat and the incidence of type 2 diabetes among French women.

The researchers’ findings appeared in the January 2012 issue of Diabetes Care in the article “Processed and unprocessed red meat consumption and incident type 2 diabetes among French women.”

For the purposes of this study, the research team conducted a large prospective cohort study, which included 66,118 French women. These women did not have type 2 diabetes at the start of the study.

Dietary information from study participants was collected using a validated questionnaire. Between 1993 and 2007, the researchers found that 1,369 study participants had developed incident type 2 diabetes.

For this study, multivariate analyses were adjusted for a variety of factors, including:

  • age
  • alcohol
  • body mass index
  • calories
  • carbohydrates
  • coffee
  • education
  • fiber
  • fruits and vegetables
  • hormone replacement therapy
  • hypercholesterolemia
  • hypertension
  • menopause
  • omega-3 fatty acids
  • parental history of diabetes
  • physical activity
  • region
  • smoking

When researchers compared the highest category of processed red meat intake, which was greater than or equal to 5 servings per week (median: 48 g/day), to the lowest category of processed red meat intake, which less than 1 serving per week (median: 5 g/day), processed meat was significantly associated with incident type 2 diabetes.

The hazard ratio was 1.30 (95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.07 to1.59; p=0.0007), but for those who ate 1 serving of processed red meat a day, the hazard ratio was 1.29 (CI: 1.14 to 1.45).

The research team determined that although eating processed red meat is directly linked to type 2 diabetes incidence, eating unprocessed red meat was not associated with developing type 2 diabetes in French women.

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