A new study, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, has found eating red meat more than once a week can increase the risk of Type 2 diabetes.
However, that isn’t convincing some students not to eat it.
The study, released in mid-October, analyzed the health data of almost 217,000 people who participated in three different studies. They were provided with food frequency questionnaires every two to four years, for up to 36 years.
According to the study’s authors from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, the analysis “adds a greater level of certainty about the association.”
Sahil Uchil, 29, a Cyber Security student at Durham College, is a Type 1 diabetic yet doesn’t allow his diabetes to stop him from eating red meat. He likes the taste and he’s been eating it all his life.
“I’m not going to give up on the meat though, but I’ll keep that as an option,” he says.
Uchil was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at the age of nine-years-old, and he is the only diabetic in his family. Uchil has taken four shots of insulin daily since being diagnosed in 2004.
He says since moving to Ontario in August from Mumbai, he hasn’t been eating red meat due to the cost.
“So after coming to Canada, I haven’t had red meat for a long time,” he says. “But back home, we used to have it maybe twice a week or twice in two weeks.”
Uchil may not be be convinced to change his diet because of the link to diabetes but he has other concerns.
“Once you read this study you need to think about how you have your food, because there’s also a study that says that red meat is one of the leading causes of climate change,” he says.
“So that that’s a different way to look at it, maybe save the planet a bit.”
According to Diabetes Canada, about 30 per cent of Canadians have diabetes or pre-diabetes. It can lead to strokes, heart attacks, kidney failure and non-traumatic leg and foot amputations.
The Chronicle asked several students in the Pit whether they would stop eating red meat as a result of the Harvard study’s findings.
Sarah, a Pre-Health Sciences student at Durham College, says she stopped eating red meat when she was 15-years-old.
She says these findings reinforce her opinion about eating red meat.
“I was vegetarian originally. My doctor told me I wasn’t getting enough protein, and so I kind of graduated to poultry and fish,” she says.
Sarah’s doctor had suggested the idea of incorporating red meat in her diet, and she said that was a definite no.
“Because I’ve done a lot of research on it, and I know that it can have adverse effects on the body,” she says. “And I also just don’t really support how much it can deteriorate, like the pollution in our environment.”
Christopher, a Photography student at Durham College, says he eats red meat only once a week. His stance on red meat has not changed after hearing about the study.
“As long as you portion it out properly, I think everybody will be fine,” he says.
Oral Quaett, a Computer Systems Technician student, says he eats red meat once a week, sometimes more than once. He has mixed feelings about the results of the study.
“I’m not an overly consumer of red meat, I don’t eat it too often. But I do think eating too much of anything, not just red meat, can contribute negatively,” Quaett says.
The study also found that replacing red meat with plant-based protein such as nuts, and legumes can reduce risk of Type 2 diabetes.