Can Meat Cause Weight Gain?
Is Meat Causing You Weight Gain?
Our last blog on chicken, The Dark Side to Chicken You Need to Know, prompted some good discussion. Since we’ve opened the door to obesity and meat, I thought I’d do a follow-up article…
The EPIC-PANACEA study was a HUGE study observing over 100,000 men and over 270,000 women, aged 25-70 that were followed between 1992 and 2000 in 10 European countries. No, this study was not conducted in the U.S., but the similarities in eating habits and disease risk is quite similar.
The researchers noted meat intake is positively associated with weight gain during adult life in European subjects. The association was true for red meat, poultry, and processed meat. Even adjusting for calories, it was the meat that put the weight on.
Researchers concluded they were in favor of formal public health recommendations to decrease meat consumption to manage weight and for overall health improvement. [Ref: American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2010. “Meat consumption and prospective weight change in participants of the EPIC-PANACEA study”].
Was the meat industry happy with this study? Not so much…as you might expect. The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association stated that perhaps the weight gain was due to increased muscle mass, not fat. The researchers kindly reran their numbers taking a sample of over 90,000 individuals, measuring their abdominal obesity, the most dangerous place to carry fat, as its associated with degenerative diseases such as heart disease, cancer and diabetes – our top killers.
Even when calories were kept the same, the more meat the participants consumed, the more their belly fat increased, the larger their abdomens grew. [Ref: Nutritionfacts.org, Dr Greger]
Chicken, which we spoke about in our earlier blog, The Dark Side to Chicken You Need to Know, was found to be the worst. The strongest association with annual weight increase was tied to poultry consumption. Simply, the more chicken you ate, the more likely you were to gain weight.
Another U.S. study came to the same conclusion. Comparing those who ate no chicken to those who consumed a mere 20 grams of chicken. The chicken consumers had significantly greater increase in their BMI (body mass index – indication of overweight or obesity) as compared to those who ate no chicken. [Ref: Journal of Nutrition 142, 2012. “Longitudinal changes in BMI in older adults are associated with meat consumption deferentially, by type of meat consumption”]
Chicken is a high fat food. Why are our chickens so fat? They are confined, unable to exercise, they are fed growth promoters to get them to market faster (the fattest chickens win!), not to mention many who receive GMO feed, and antibiotics.
It used to be that chickens provided a nice amount of DHA, a fatty acid important for brain health. Today, you would have to eat 6 chickens (a mere 9,000 calories!) to get the same amount of DHA found in a single chicken from the 1970s.
Researchers from the Institute for Brain Chemistry postulated such changes in our food system may correlate to increased mental illness. They believe the accelerated growth rate of today’s chickens simply don’t allow them the time to develop the healthy DHA fatty acid, and instead today’s chickens have DPA, a fatty acid that cannot readily convert to healthy brain protecting DHA. Researchers don’t put the entire blame for mental illness upon chicken, however, they do feel the alterations in our food overall have moved away from health and more towards inflammation and disease.[Ref: Nutritionfacts.org, Dr Greger]
We support a move towards a whole food, plant-based diet. If you need recipe ideas, feel free to visit our website under recipes. There are videos of me cooking healthy meals, along with great recipe ideas, all plant-based, all uber healthy, all delicious.
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To reclaiming your best health,
Dr. Vikki Petersen DC, CCN
Certified Functional Medicine Practitioner
Founder of Root Cause Medical Clinic
Author of “The Gluten Effect”
Author of eBook: “Gluten Intolerance – What You Don’t Know May Be Killing You!”