Diabetes is a Glucose Problem and Red Meat Does Not Contain Glucose
Harvard University’s T.H. Chan’s School of Public Health, recently published a study titled, Red meat intake and risk of type 2 diabetes in a prospective cohort study of United States females and males (2023). The study concluded: “
Diabetes is a disease where the human body is unable to manage glucose. Red meat does not contain glucose. However, the carbohydrates such as buns, rolls, bread, french fries, and soda that are often consumed with red meat do contain glucose.
Epidemiological Studies Have a Bad Track Record
The methodology utilized in the study is called epidemiology. It has been defined as the study of the determinants, occurrence, and distribution of health and disease in a defined population. Overall, epidemiology, when rigorously tested in clinical trials, has a very low accuracy rate of only 0 to 20%.
In an article titled, ‘The Problem with Observational Studies (Epidemiology)’ (Nobbs 2021) the author states,
“The flip-flopping of mainstream dietary advice is largely explained by an over-reliance on what are called observational studies. Also known as cohort studies or nutritional epidemiology, these types of studies show correlation, but not causation, creating endless interesting hypotheses and few definitive answers.
The results of observational studies form the foundation of today’s nutrition policy, driving most of the dietary advice from the American Heart Association, World Health Organization, and US Dietary Guidelines. They also lead to attention-grabbing headlines that prove difficult to erase from our collective conscious.”
“The results of observational studies show correlation, not causation; they make catchy headlines, but are not causative evidence.”
Our study supports current dietary recommendations for limiting consumption of
red meat intake and emphasizes the importance of different alternative sources of protein for T2D
Nutritional Scientist Critical of Harvard Study
Nutritionist, Dr. Zoë Harcombe reviewed the study and wrote a rebuttal article listing 14 issues as follows:
1. The study was based on food frequency questionnaires which Dr. Harcombe states are notably inaccurate.
- The researchers “calibrated” the reported intakes, which increased risk ratios.
- The definition of red meat included sandwiches and lasagna.
- Serving sizes have changed since the original Food Frequency Questionnaires were first published.
- Dr. Harcombe believes the intakes used to compare people have become more extreme.
- The study made the unprecedented claim that women consume more red meat than men.
- Total red meat was claimed to have a higher risk than both processed red meat and unprocessed red meat. Total red meat is the sum of the other two. It can’t be worse than both.
- The red meat eater had a higher BMI and was more likely to smoke and less likely to exercise. Dr. Harcombe states that the study can’t adjust for a completely different person.
- Dr. Harcombe disagreed with reported calorie intake, finding it absurd.
- The characteristics table reported all food intake except the relevant ones – sugar and grains.
- The headline claims did not adjust for the higher BMI.
- Even if there were no issues 1-11, Dr. Harcombe found that the study could only suggest association, not causation.
13. The relative risk numbers grabbed the headlines; Dr Harcombe found that the absolute risk differences were a fraction of one per cent.
14. The plausible mechanisms proposed applied far more sensibly to the bun, fries and fizzy drink (which were ignored) than to the burger.
Dr. Harcombe also stated, “My immediate thought was – don’t blame the burger for what the bun, fries and fizzy drink did. It is also the latest paper from the Harvard epidemiological paper production factory. All their papers promote plants and condemn animal foods. This is just their latest attack on red meat.”
The link to her rebuttal and additional explanations can be found below.
We Need to Stand Up and Support Our Industry
Despite the disappointing headlines about this recent study, we can take heart in the fact that the reality about meat consumption is slowly but surely coming to light. An article in Beef Central, an Australian beef industry publication, stated: “The unequivocal conclusion from two days of detailed presentations by scientific experts from Australia, the U.S. and Europe is that the highest standards of science do not justify or support the ’simplistic and reductionist’ war being waged against meat.”
In October 2022, over 200 science community experts from around the world convened in Dublin, Ireland, at the International Summit on the Societal Role of Meat and the Special Issue of Animal Frontiers. The Dublin meeting resulted in The Dublin Declaration of Scientists on the Societal Role of Livestock, a formal statement signed by all in attendance, in support of meat consumption, livestock production, and their importance to human health and society.
Unfortunately, pro-meat, pro-agriculture materials are not given comparable coverage by the media. When misinformation is presented about our industry, it is imperative that we stand up and answer back with facts and true science.
Harvard’s anti-meat study: https://ajcn.nutrition.org/article/S0002-9165(23)66119-2/fulltext Rebuttal: https://www.zoeharcombe.com/2023/10/red-meat-type-2-
Meat is essential: https://protecttheharvest.com/news/meat-is-essential-for-human-health-the- environment-and-society-scientists-declare/
Dublin Declaration: https://www.dublin-declaration.org/
Regarding the flawed nature of epidemiological studies: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC523097/ https://academic.oup.com/ije/article/37/1/59/770893 https://rss.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/pdf/10.1111/j.1740-9713.2011.00506.x https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16014596 https://www.jeffnobbs.com/posts/the-problem-with-observational-studies-epidemiology