A team of European researchers have found that reducing meat consumption may be a key factor in losing weight and maintaining an healthy body weight. The researchers wrote in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition that meat intake, because of its high energy and fat content might be linked to weight gain.
According to some previous observational studies, the researchers wrote, meat consumption is positively linked to weight gain. However, intervention studies had not revealed a clear picture.
The team, from the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, School of Public Health, Imperial College London and other European institutions, set out to evaluate the link between total meat, red meat, poultry and processed meat consumption and weight gain after a follow-up of 5 years, involving over 370,000 individuals who participated in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition-Physical Activity, Nutrition, Alcohol, Cessation of Smoking, Eating Out of Home and Obesity (EPIC-PANACEA) project.
Between 1992 and 2,000 103,455 males and 270,248 females, aged between 25 and 70 were recruited from 10 different European countries.
Country-specific validated questionnaires were used to assess their baseline diets. Their weights and heights were measured at the start; and were subsequently asked to report their weight after five years.
In general, the team discovered that meat intake was linked to weight gain in both sexes; even after factoring in such variables as average calorie intake, physical activity and other counfounders.
The researchers wrote:
Total meat consumption was positively associated with weight gain in men and women, in normal-weight and overweight subjects, and in smokers and nonsmokers. With adjustment for estimated energy intake, an increase in meat intake of 250 g/d (eg, one steak at 450 kcal) would lead to a 2-kg higher weight gain after 5 y (95% CI: 1.5, 2.7 kg). Positive associations were observed for red meat, poultry, and processed meat.