I just saw a news headline that grabbed my attention… obviously (being a steak-a-day for health advocate) I had to clear the air. I’ve been wanting to write this and finally something got me to do it. Here ya go this will sum things up nicely…
A wide range, oh no… this could only mean one thing. Time to completely stop eating meat, right?
Let’s dive in for minute to analyze a study like this. Sensationalism in news leads to illness, bad decisions, and dangerous habits. We’re gonna sort this out.
Definitions to lay the groundwork
In relation to a study, is a non experimental research method. The researcher measures two variables but does not take in to account any other influence from any other source.
Example: you have city folk and country dwellers – you send out a form and they reply with how happy they are. The country folk by a margin of 60 to 40 claimed to be happier. The news headline would read: IF YOU WANT HAPPINESS MOVE TO THE COUNTRY – while this is true 😉 it’s very misleading and scientifically inaccurate. 60% of the country folk out of 100 claimed happiness. 40% of the city folk out of 100 claimed happiness. This data shows by correlation that happiness is found in the country. Silly reasoning but obviously true. 😉
In relation to a study is a very complex process and very difficult to carry out effectively. Causation means that you scientifically point to a cause, being very specific.
Example: You put 50,000 rats on a medication and 50,000 rats on a “placebo” and keep them in the exact same living conditions – you’re likely to learn a causation lesson about rats. It will be about as scientifically sound as a study gets.
In relation to a study, basically means that you take a group of people and try to pinpoint health-related states in specific communities. My opinion is that epidemiological studies tend to have a LOT of holes and usually best serve the industry funding the study.
Reviewing the Meat Consumption Study
- The study was conducted via online questionnaires.
- it’s an epidemiological study with a correlation / not causation result.
- People were asked if they ate meat or didn’t eat meat and how often of the course of many years.
- From the study: “most of the positive associations observed for meat consumption and health risks were substantially attenuated after adjustment for body mass index (BMI).” Meaning: if you were fatter, you had more issues BUT keep reading.
- They found that those who didn’t eat meat had lower iron (iron deficiencies).
From this study, the authors are telling us that eating meat and having a high BMI accounted for the health risks. Remember how it’s worded: “MOST” of the issues were “SUBSTANTIALLY ATTENUATED” after the adjustment for those who were overweight. What does attenuated mean? It means: HAVING BEEN REDUCED! What does this mean? The actual data (health implications) were more closely aligned with BMI (fat content). The more of it, the worse the outcome.
Let’s Sum this Up
If they would have demonstrated the correlation between those who ate meat vs. those who ate meat and over-consumed carbohydrate, you’d get a little closer to the culprit possibly. I suppose the more questions you ask the closer you get to useful data. In studies revolving around meat consumption, scientifically useful data isn’t typically a priority. Narrative is.
In relation to BMI, isn’t it weird they didn’t mention BMI in the title? here
A more honest title would have been:
Meat consumption and BMI – risk of 25 common conditions: outcome-wide analyses in 475,000 men and women in the UK Biobank study
Here’s the reality: Most people who eat meat 3 or 4 times a week are also eating carbohydrates in large measure. And most people who don’t eat meat are avoiding added sugars in large measure. And this doesn’t even take in to account movement, being active.
You simply cannot, nor is it possible, to eat only meat and grow fat.
There are many examples of people currently eating ONLY meat and reversing disease. I challenge you to find one person on earth who has been eating ONLY meat for several years who isn’t either losing fat or has already lost all unnecessary body fat they may have once had. History also has proven this to be true in several cultures.
Now, if you want a useful correlative study about meat, the correct method would be: two groups – one group eats ONLY meat and the other group does whatever they want… anything. You’d quickly find that the healthier group would be the meat eating group. It’s mind numbingly simple. Seriously simple: if you want to point the finger at meat (and not a generally unhealthy diet) you MUST test those that ONLY eat meat. There is no other way to point the blame directly at meat and saturated fat. You can’t claim that meat is the culprit when your sampling is eating other things too. That’s just bad science, there is no logic, there is no causation to point to.
Oh by the way, if you want a long laundry list of health benefits from red meat consumption (particularly from ruminants), read this post.
A correlative study involving meat has recently been released. The sensational headline claiming massive health failure “EATING MEAT LINKED TO WIDE RANGE OF ILLNESSES” is misleading and dangerous.
Here’s why: correlative studies measure two variables but don’t take in to account other influences. Correlation is not the same as causation. The headline points to meat as the cause which is dishonest.
From the study: “most of the positive associations observed for meat consumption and health risks were substantially attenuated after adjustment for body mass index (BMI).” Attenuated means: having been reduced. Data (health implications) were more closely aligned with BMI (fat content) than the actual practice of meat consumption. Translation: more fat = higher probability of poor health outcomes.
But BMI was not the focus, meat was. Lies in media, carefully funded correlative studies contribute to the public’s behavior and governmental legislation.
The correct method via correlative study to determine if meat is unhealthy would be: two groups – one group eats ONLY meat and the other group does whatever they want… anything. This way, you would eliminate other influences via diet and pinpoint meat as either a cause for concern, or perfectly safe and healthy.
Everyone I know who eats large quantities of meat and dramatically limits carbohydrates reduces body fat, 100% of the time and with no exceptions. And by the study’s theory (alignment of BMI) and my own personal sampling, meat may be a part of the solution and not the problem. Anecdotal? Yes. And I’m okay with that.