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Meat is contributing to the global obesity as much as sugar is

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Posted August 3, 2016

A big part of the world is struggling in a fight against obesity. Policy makers are introducing new laws to lower sugar consumption, famous people are promoting healthy lifestyle and local organizations are inviting people to participate in group exercising. However, a new research from the University of Adelaide suggests that overconsumption of meat should also be addressed in these efforts.

Scientists found that protein in the meat is creating energy surplus, which is stored as fat in the body. Image credit: MOs810 via Wikimedia, CC-BY-SA-4.0

Scientists found that protein in the meat is creating energy surplus, which is stored as fat in the body. Image credit: MOs810 via Wikimedia, CC-BY-SA-4.0

Scientists decided to test the idea that meat in our diet offers surplus energy. Thus, they set out to analyse the correlation between meat consumption and obesity rates in 170 countries. There is no denying that all energy we get with food should be used during physical activities in order to avoid undesirable health effects, such as gaining weight. However, scientists, rather shockingly, found that meat is contributing to the global obesity at the same rate as sugar is.

This means that all policies aimed at fighting the prevalence of obesity should include overconsumption of meat. Professor Maciej Henneberg, one of the authors of the study, explained the results: “we have found that sugar availability in a nation explains 50% of obesity variation while meat availability another 50%”. Of course, these results would not convince anyone, if not corrected for various factors, such as GDP, calorie consumption, levels of urbanisation and so on, but even after that impact of sugar and meat remained the same.

These findings are targeting long-held belief that fats and carbohydrates are the major factors contributing to obesity. However, as scientists note, fats and carbohydrates are giving us enough energy, while protein from the meat is digested later and thus creates an energy surplus, which is stored as fat in the body. There were some researches before that tried proving that meat is contributing to obesity, but all of them focused on the fat in the meat. Now scientists are arguing it is actually protein that is doing the job.

However, scientists warn people that it would be a mistake to think that eating a diet high in fats and carbohydrates is not that bad. It is. But policies and various guidelines are addressing it, while meat proteins are not considered a major contributor to global obesity. This is why these results are so important and why guidelines should include lowering both sugar and meat consumption.

Source: adelaide.edu.au

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