Meat consumption contributes just as much as sugar to growing global obesity, research suggests.
Scientists at the University of Adelaide examined the global availability of sugar and meat and how it affected the levels of obesity in 170 countries, and found a strong correlation between the two.
After adjusting for the disparity in national levels of urbanisation, physical activity and calorific intake, the PhD student Wenpeng You found the availability of meat could account for 13% of the obesity rate, which is the same rate as it is for sugar, reported Metro.
‘There is a dogma that fats and carbohydrates, especially fats, are the major factors contributing to obesity,’ he said.
‘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.’
Professor Maciej Henneberg, head of the university’s Biological Anthropology and Comparative Anatomy Research Unit, admitted the finding was ‘controversial’.
‘While we believe it’s important that the public should be alert to the over-consumption of sugar and some fats in their diets, based on our findings we believe meat protein in the human diet is also making a significant contribution to obesity,’ he said.