14 problems with the red meat type-2 diabetes study

Dr. Zoe Harcombe regularly reviews the studies that come out in the media. She often points out the flaws in the reporting and the studies themselves. This week she eviscerates the study that’s hitting the news about red meat increasing the risk of type-2 diabetes. Anyone with any sense and knowledge of diet knows there is no sugar in red meat. It does not create a spike in insulin and cannot contribute to type-2 diabetes.

Issue 1 – the inaccuracy of Food Frequency Questionnaires (upon which this study was based).

Issue 2 – the reported intakes were changed (the researchers ‘calibrated’ the reported intakes, which increased risk ratios.)

Issue 3 – the definition of red meat included sandwiches and lasagna.

Issue 4 – the serving sizes have changed since the original Food Frequency Questionnaires.

Issue 5 – the intakes used to compare people have become more extreme.

Issue 6 – the study claimed that women consume more red meat than men; that would be a first.

Issue 7 – 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.

Issue 8 – the healthy person confounder. The red meat eater had a higher BMI and was more likely to smoke and less likely to exercise. We can’t adjust for a completely different person.

Issue 9 – the reported calorie intake was absurd.

Issue 10 – the characteristics table reported all food intake except the relevant ones – sugar and grains.

Issue 11 – the headline claims did not adjust for the higher BMI.

Issue 12 – even if there were no issues 1-11, the study could only suggest association not causation.

Issue 13 – the relative risk numbers grabbed the headlines; the absolute risk differences were a fraction of one per cent.

Issue 14 – the plausible mechanisms proposed applied far more sensibly to the bun, fries and fizzy drink (which were ignored) than to the burger.

Red meat & Type 2 Diabetes – zoeharcombe.com

There’s way more meat (pun intended) in her blog post. This attack on beef needs to stop.


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