Friday, 23 July 2010

Cut Down On Meat to Lose Weight

I am sure we have all seen news this week advising we should 'Cut Down On Meat to Lose Weight'.  Reading through the story there is a subtext that is worth highlighting:
  • A European study of almost 400,000 adults found that eating meat was linked with weight gain, even in people taking in the same number of calories.
Now is it me or is this saying 'a calorie is not a calorie'?  Could it be 'hormones':
  • Although it is not clear why meat would lead to weight gain in people eating the same number of calories, one theory is that energy-dense foods like meat alter how the body regulates appetite control.
So what was the objective of the study?
  • The study looked at data from adults taking part in a large project looking at the link between diet and cancer.
It looks like the primary objective in gathering this data was nothing to do with obesity.  Was the data fit for purpose?
  • Overall, the researchers found that meat consumption was associated with weight gain in both men and women.
Association does not mean causation!
  • More detailed analyses showed that the link was still significant after taking into account overall calorie intake, physical activity and other factors which may have skewed the results.
Hmmmm - so did they account for ALL other factors that might have skewed results?  Nope ("...there could also be another lifestyle or dietary explanation for the link that was not accounted for by the study.").  Nutritional profiles?  Fat intake, alcohol intake, the GI and GL of carbohydrates?  And how closely did they look at the profile of exercise - not just in terms of volume but also intensity?
  • The team calculated that in people who ate the same number of calories, an extra 250g of meat a day - equal to a small steak - led to an additional weight gain of 2kg (5lbs) over five years.
Wow - I can gain or lose 2kg in a couple of weeks.  I reckon that depending upon my thirst and water consumption, some days I can vary my weight by 1kg!  Now trying to consciously manage my weight to within 2kg five years hence is a laughable objective.  I would eat 'paleo' for four years 364 days and still come in on target (allowing for improved body composition).  Which begs the question, did they adjust for body composition?  Not sure.

Let's hear from the British Dietetic Association;
  • Sian Porter, a dietician and spokeswoman for the British Dietetic Association, said there were caveats in the study, including the fact that at the end-weight was self-reported.
There is a saying in IT "Shit in, shit out".  Despite her initial reservations Sian Porter then went on to say "We eat more meat than we need."  And erm....where is your evidence for this Sian?

Study leader Dr Anne-Claire Vergnaud said: "Decreasing the amount of meat alone would not be an adequate weight loss strategy.".  Now that is something we can agree on.

*UPDATE - Dr Briffa has skewered the research here!

3 comments:

Methuselah said...

Mmmmm, meat. Check this out from last night. Slow-cooked ox tail. A feast. Any day now these rippling abs are going to disappear.

Asclepius said...

Five years of eating meals like THAT and you'll be 2kg heavier before you know it!

Methuselah said...

I think I was 2KG heavier the same night!.... but then mysteriously I lost it again the following morning after I had finished 'preparing for the day'.