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The Role Of Red Meat In A Balanced Diet

1150 words - 5 pages

A recurring theme in professional health literature for many years, the role of red meat in a healthy diet continues to be at the forefront, due in part because of the scientific debate: Is red meat necessary in a balanced diet or is it detrimental to good health? In a Nursing Standard article, “The Role of Red Meat in a Balanced Diet,” Carrie Ruxton claims that a balanced diet that includes small amounts of lean red meat contributes to good health. Ruxton, a free-lance dietician, states that “lean red meat is unlikely to increase the risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease, obesity and colorectal cancer” and that those diseases are due to eating processed meats that are salted or smoked, overeating and lack of exercise. While Ruxton covers the nutritional composition of raw lean meat and aims to offer insight on why red meat consumption is not contributing to obesity and disease, she falls short of being convincing for several reasons: she discounts a mountain of scientific studies that show a connection between red meat consumption and cardiovascular disease, obesity and cancer due to what she states are “methodological limitations of observational studies (that) make it impossible to establish cause and effect,” she does not account for economic limitations that preclude most consumers from being able to buy leaner cuts of red meat, and she barely mentions what makes a balanced diet, or that a combination of vegetables, fruits and whole grains, supplemented by vitamins and possibly eggs and milk products will provide an equally nutritious diet at a reduced cost, perhaps because the article was supported by a grant from the UK Meat Advisory Panel.
First, it is disturbing that Ruxton would summarily write off the results of studies world-wide that not only demonstrate that red meat consumption increases the risk of disease, but also the medical treatments recommended by physicians for patients who have cardiovascular disease often include a vegetarian diet. Sticher, Smith and Davidson (1994) state that “As research supports, advantages for conscientious vegetarians include better health with fewer chronic diseases than the average American”. Knutson (as cited in Sticher, Smith and Davidson, 1994) points out the potential cost implications on the public health as great because of the decreased amount of prescribed medications and hospitalizations by vegetarians. More than once Ruxton cites lack of controlled conditions in the studies that show a correlation between red meat consumption and disease. However, with the overwhelming evidence to the contrary it would appear that she is attempting to justify her position without sufficient evidence. According to Denny, Aisbitt and Lunn (2008), 49% of all deaths in Europe are caused by cardiovascular disease, a fact that Ruxton did not mention in her article.
Second, Ruxton points out that she does not include less expensive meats such as sausage, hamburger, salami or canned meats...

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