Leading authorities on nutrition are confounded by one group’s new advice regarding the consumption of red and processed meat.
The studies done by the questionable team of health researchers at the recently established NutriRECS, suggest that people shouldn’t worry about decreasing their intake of meat to maintain their health. Ironically, NutriRECS claims its goal is to “produce trustworthy nutritional guideline recommendations based on the values, attitudes, and preferences of patients and community members.”
Dr. Frank Hu, chair of the nutrition department at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, says, “This is a very irresponsible public health recommendation”.
Co-founder of NutriRECS and head author of the recommendations, Bradley Johnston, argues that the team’s findings failed to discover “any certainty that eating red meat or processed meat causes cancer, diabetes, or heart disease.”
The team’s recommendations that the majority of people shouldn’t have concerns over their consumption of meat are “weak” and founded on “low-quality evidence” said Johnston.
“Why would you make a ‘weak’ recommendation about eating red and processed meat?” asks Christopher Gardner, nutrition scientist at Stanford School of Medicine. “I’m completely flabbergasted. I’m also really worried about how dangerous this is.”
According to Johnston, the guidelines only take into account the effects that eating red meat has on human health, and excludes elements like animal rights and environmental impact.
What the leading authorities have to say
“It should be noted that the group does not represent any national or international organization or government,” says Jim Mann, professor of medicine and human nutrition at the University of Otago, New Zealand, and member of the World Health Organization Nutrition Guidance Expert Advisory Group. “Guidelines are generally issued by authoritative bodies rather than self-selected groups”.
NutriRECS advice goes against current guidelines from the United Kingdom’s National Health Service, the World Health Organization, the American Heart Association, and the American Cancer Society among others.
“There’s substantial evidence that processed meat can cause bowel cancer, so much so that the World Health Organization has classified it as carcinogenic since 2015,” said Tim Key, an epidemiologist from Oxford University and member of the U.K Department of Health’s Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition.
“Suggesting that there is no need to limit these foods would put people at risk of colorectal cancer and further undermine public confidence in dietary advice,” said Dr. Nigel Brockton, vice president of research at the American Institute for Cancer Research.