A new study says that meat intake is as harmful as sugar in the growing prevalence of global obesity.
According to scientists at the University of Adelaide, fats and carbohydrates can provide us with enough energy to meet our demands, and are digested faster than protein, meaning the energy stored in meat is used later, or if surplus to requirements, is converted and stored as fat in the body, reports the Independent.
This means that increased availability of meat may be making a significant contribution to global waist sizes.
“Whether we like it or not, fats and carbohydrates in modern diets are supplying enough energy to meet our daily needs. Because meat protein is digested later than fats and carbohydrates, this makes the energy we receive from protein a surplus, which is then converted and stored as fat in the human body,” said researcher Wenpeng You.
After accounting for differences between countries, including levels of urbanisation, physical activity and calorific intake, the research found the availability of meat could account for 13 percent of the obesity rate, the same level as sugar.
Speaking about his research to the University of Adelaide website, You said: “There is a dogma that fats and carbohydrates, especially fats, are the major factors contributing to obesity.”
The study differs from previous research into links between meat and obesity, which have linked meat’s fat content to weight problems.
But according to You, it is the protein in meat which is directly responsible.
He presented the findings of his work at the 18th International Conference on Nutrition and Food Sciences in Zurich, Switzerland.
The research has also formed the basis of two papers on the issue, published in BMC Nutrition and the Journal of Nutrition and Food Sciences.