Evaluating the evidence for limiting red meat consumption

Most current dietary guidelines recommend relatively low consumption of red and processed meats and a high intake of minimally processed plant-based foods for the prevention of cancer, diabetes, and other chronic diseases. Yet a research group called the Nutritional Recommendations (NutriRECS) consortium has proposed new dietary guidelines that encourage current meat consumption trends due to “low certainty” of the evidence regarding meat’s health effects, the difficulty of changing meat eaters’ habits, and the lack of need to consider meat production’s environmental effects.

Researchers from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and colleagues challenged the proposed guidelines in a “Perspectives in Care” piece published in the February 1, 2020 issue of Diabetes Care. They wrote that the guidelines are not justified, in large part because the criteria NutriRECS used in their analysis—called GRADE (Grading of Recommendations, Assessment, Development, and Evaluation)—were developed mainly to evaluate evidence from drug trials and are not suitable for evaluating nutritional evidence.

“The red/processed meat recommendations by NutriRECS suffer from important methodological limitations and involve misinterpretations of nutritional evidence,” wrote Frank Hu, Harvard Chan School’s Fredrick J. Stare Professor of Nutrition and Epidemiology and chair of the Department of Nutrition, and co-authors.

Read the Diabetes Care article: Red and Processed Meats and Health Risks: How Strong Is the Evidence?

Learn more

New “guidelines” say continue red meat consumption habits, but recommendations contradict evidence  (The Nutrition Source)

New concerns raised over study that OK’d current meat consumption levels (Harvard Chan School news)