Controversial study puts red meat back on the table

Press/Media: Expert Comment


A new study recommends continuation of current consumption of both processed and unprocessed red meat, but it has drawn strong criticism from experts...

Associate Professor Mark Morgan, Chair of the RACGP Expert Committee – Quality Care (REC–QC), spoke to newsGP about the findings.
‘It’s an interesting study and it appears to have been conducted well,’ he said. ‘What they concluded is that there’s a need to be a little bit cautious about pushing dietary advice at people where the need to change diets is not clear.
‘Most people would conclude that if they’re willing and prepared to reduce their red meat, there might be some health benefits.
‘We just don’t know for sure.’
Associate Professor Morgan said a downfall of this study is the fact it does not include recommendations based on other factors, such as the effect on the climate.
‘I think that the medical response to climate change might be to encourage a reduction in meat-based diet,’ he said...

While controversy remains over this paper’s findings, Associate Professor Morgan is keen to note the role of a GP is to individualise such advice for their patients.
‘I think what we’re seeing here is the challenge of medical advice as a population level – what should the policy be – versus individual people’s medical advice,’ he said.
‘When you do these large cohort studies that are used to formulate guidelines, we’re really talking about population health approach and it’s really hard to translate that into direct individual choice.’
The bottom line, Associate Professor Morgan said, is not whether the research shows a change in advice on red meat consumption, but how important such advice is compared to other health measures.
‘There are much higher priorities for individuals, such as smoking, overall nutrition, alcohol intake and physical activity,’ he said.
‘So the SNAP approach is much, much more important when you’re counselling individuals about choices.’


New interpretation of evidence led the authors to question established dietary guidelines about red meat consumption

Period2 Oct 2019

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