Meat is not the enemy

FIONA GREIG
Last updated 16:55 06/03/2014
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OPINION: In response to news published around the world and on Stuff yesterday claiming that eating protein is harmful for our health, Fiona Greig from Beef + Lamb New Zealand defends meat.

As consumers we're constantly bombarded with the latest figures and studies telling us what's good for us, what to eat, what to drink, what to avoid and what to increase. In this day and age, it can be confusing to sort what's actual fact and what's more of a stretch.

The latest study published in Cell Metabolism is certainly a stretch.

I feel very strongly that the article Eating meat 'as bad as smoking' published on stuff.co.nz yesterday, does not provide a true reflection of the results of the study.

At no point does the study single out meat as contributing to chronic disease or mortality nor does it make any comparisons to smoking which make the headline entirely inaccurate.

Peter Emery, head of nutrition and dietetics at King's College London, was quoted in The Guardian explaining people should take caution over observational studies, particularly when looking at diet "given the difficulties of disentangling one nutrient or dietary component from another".

I'd like to reiterate this point as the results of a single study, particularly one which shows only an association, not an actual cause, does not change dietary recommendations.

To report on a published study, one needs to understand the limitations of that study. This study did highlight these limitations and should have been considered.

Firstly, many of the results came from tests performed on animals or at a cellular level, not humans.

Secondly, the use of 24 hour dietary recall has the potential to misclassify typical eating patterns.

Furthermore, this study is completely out of context for New Zealanders as according to the last New Zealand adult nutrition survey, diets currently contain approximately 16% protein, which is in line with the current food and nutrition guidelines.

It may seem as though this is coming from a bias viewpoint seeing as though I represent Beef + Lamb New Zealand Inc, however in this instance all facts need to be considered and our philosophy at Beef + Lamb New Zealand has never been to encourage unhealthy habits, but rather promote a balanced view and a balanced diet.

What do you think? Is meat a healthy part of our diet?

- Fiona is Beef + Lamb New Zealand's Nutrition Manager

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