A team of international researchers recently rattled the nutrition world by saying there isn’t enough evidence to tell people to cut back on red or processed meat.
Likewise, red meat is good or bad for you? If the answer is just as simple as that.
An international team of researchers have recently rocked the world of nutrition, saying there was not enough evidence to tell people to cut back on red meat or processed, which seems contrary to the advice of health experts leading and groups including the American Cancer Society and the American Heart Association.
However, researchers are not saying people should eat more meat, or that it is healthy. No new studies were conducted, and they reported no new understanding of the effects of meat on the body. Instead, the letters offer a new approach to provide advice on food and health – and a warning for how it is often done.
dispute laid bare problems with nutrition research long been recognized in the scientific world: Nutritional studies almost never conclusive, and whatever the supposed risks and benefits that exist for food is often simplified.
“People like stickers guidance,” said Dr. Walter Willett, professor of nutrition at Harvard who has led the study bind the meat to poor health.
Now health experts grappled with how strong scientific findings must be before the guidance was issued, how to overcome the bias that might skew the conclusions and whether we get the pleasure of eating should be considered.
supervision which is likely to spill into other dietary advice as obesity is a public health problem that is increasingly critical, and people are becoming increasingly frustrated with the message of flip-flopping.
Meat two ways
The paper analyzed previous studies on red and processed meat and generally corroborated the link to cancer, heart disease and other adverse health outcomes. But they said the possibility of any benefit from eating less than they appear small or negligible.
For every 1,000 people, for example, cutting back on red meat to three servings per week is associated with fewer deaths from seven cancers. For some other health measures, such as stroke, the difference was small or non-existent.
Moreover, the researchers say there is little certainty meat was the reason for the difference.
Uncertainty is common in nutritional research. Much of the research on diet and health is based on the link between public health researchers made and what they say they eat. But that does not prove one causes the other. If thin people love cereal and eat it almost every day, for example, it does not mean that the cereal is the reason they are thin.
Health experts who defended the advice to eat less meat researchers say that applying unreasonable standards – to evaluate the strength of the study meat intended for medical research method, in which a certain dosage of drug can be tested under controlled conditions.
With nutrients, they said it was impossible to conduct studies where diet and lifestyle are controlled and monitored over long periods of time. They said statistics signal that they see in nutritional studies are meaningful, and that people should be given guidance on the best available data.
People vs. Population
If it is true that there will be seven fewer cancer deaths for every 1,000 people are cutting back on red meat, then it is also true that 993 of those people will not see the benefits even if they eat fewer burgers.
For many public health experts, the potential for seven deaths less valuable make comprehensive recommendations to limit meat. In the whole population, the numbers can add up to a lot of lives saved.
But the question is where to draw the line, and at what point the potential benefits are too small and uncertain to ask people to change their behavior.
The authors also argue individual being asked to change their behavior should be considered. For those who regularly eat and enjoy meat, cut back on, it may seem drastic if all they get in return for a reduction in risk is small, if any at all.
“Recommendations should reflect the values and preferences of those who actually bear the consequences,” said Bradley Johnston, the lead author of the paper, which specializes in research methodology.
Given the uncertainty of the science of nutrition, another long-running concerns is the potential for the findings to be influenced by personal beliefs or financial incentives.
The newspapers are the latest is no exception, with critics and supporters of each point to factors that can affect the position of others.
Critics noted Johnston, the lead author, marred other dietary recommendations in the past. He previously led a study funded by the food industry are challenging guidelines to limit added sugars, which serve the interests of many food companies. paper initially said the independent author writing a plan for research. After the e-mail obtained by The Associated Press show the industry group sent “prompted the revision,” the paper said the group corrected and approved the plan.
Johnston and paper supporter countered, saying critics have long advised people to limit meat and may feel the need to defend their positions.
Back-and-forth highlights the difficulty of ruling out any researcher bias is likely to have, given the amount of money the industry in nutritional research and strong beliefs people often have about the food.
Meat is especially polarizing topic, considering the animal welfare and environmental consequences that come with it.
Which could further confuse people about who or what to believe, or they only focus on the research that backs up what they want to believe.
Lost in translation
Wherever researchers stood on top of the meat, there is agreement that the nuances of the science of nutrition often get lost in translation. The food is often labeled as good or bad, even when researchers tried to be nuanced.
Take the red meat. Suggestions for “limit” it often does not specify how much, which can cause people to think cutting back both regardless of the context. But in poor countries, red meat can help improve the diet. In rich countries, Willett said the benefits of cutting back will vary depending on what replaces it, and that pizza might not be an improvement.
However, Willett and others who criticized the paper last week said many Americans who eat red meat once a day or more can benefit from eating less.
There are no consistent recommendations for the amount that can be received. American Cancer Society experts say “several” servings per week or less. A study by Willett, who also discussed the environmental impact of the food, the recommended limit of one portion a week.
Public health experts want to give people advice that is easy to communicate. But many admit that doing a better job of conveying the nuances and uncertainties could help prevent the distrust and confusion.
So what should we eat?
Already, US dietary guidelines have been back-pedaling advice to limit total fat, which has been blamed for encouraging people to eat too much pasta and cookies.
In the years since, the guidelines have focused on saturated fats found in foods such as meat, butter, and some food packaging, said it should be restricted to 10% of calories.
For suggestions about changes to certain foods, health experts have been increasingly focused on the importance of the overall diet. Some notes focus on a single food, which often has a complex mix of nutrients, also can distract from the message is simple: Do not eat too much, because eating more calories than you burn makes you gain weight.
“If everyone would just pay attention to that one, we will solve a lot of problems,” says Marion Nestle, professor of nutrition and food policy at New York University.
(This story has been published on the wire feed institutions without modification of the text. Only the title has been changed.)