Heavy meat-eating could be part of an overall unhealthy diet or unhealthy lifestyle, Vergnaud and her team note.
Because meat is “energy-dense” (meaning it packs more calories by weight than veggies or fruits, for example), it could influence appetite control, they add. However, the researchers did attempt to take overall dietary pattern into account, as well as education, physical activity level, whether or not people smoked, and their total calorie intake.
Based on the findings, a person who cut their meat consumption by 250 grams daily (about a half-pound) could conceivably reduce their 5-year weight gain by around 4 pounds.
While this is a relatively small amount of weight from an individual's point of view, the researchers add, gaining an average of 4 pounds in 5 years “could have an important effect from a population perspective.”
“More importantly,” they add, “our results do not support that a high-protein diet prevents obesity or promotes long-term weight loss, contrary to what has been advocated.”
SOURCE: American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, online June 30, 2010.
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