Researchers at Imperial College London canvassed hundreds of thousands of people across Europe and found that people with mighty meat habits pile on more pounds than those who eat less meat – even if their diets contain the same amount of calories.
They also conclude that the findings “do not support the theory that a high-protein diet prevents obesity or promotes weight-loss” – contrary to the claims of such celebrity-endorsed weight-loss regimes as the Atkins Diet.
The study was based on questionnaires handed out in 10 European countries, with respondents’ weights measured at the beginning and end of a five-year period.
It found that for every 250g of meat people consumed a day they put on an extra 4.4lb in weight over the five years – almost 5lb for those who ate processed meats such as sausages and bacon.
As well as being healthier, the research suggests that cutting down on meat should be the first step for anyone interested in losing weight.
Denmark, Germany, Spain and Sweden were found to be the biggest carnivores, with men and women respectively consuming 300 and 200 calories’ worth of meat a day. Greece’s meat consumption was lowest, at 200 calories for men and 140 for women.
“Our results are in favour of the public health recommendation to decrease meat consumption for health improvement,” said research lead Anne-Claire Vergnaud.