Myth: Red Meat Consumption Is a Primary Contributor to Obesity in the U.S.


Obesity is a very complex disease that is related to the food we eat, the amount of physical activity we get, our environment and genetic factors. Data show that obesity rates have doubled since 1976. In fact, in 1985 no U.S. state showed obesity rates greater than 15 percent. In 2010, there were no states with obesity rates less than 15 percent, a dramatic increase.1 If red meat were a primary contributor to increased obesity, one would expect that red meat consumption would have increased during this same period, yet the opposite is true. Red meat consumption, which includes beef, pork, veal and lamb, peaked at 144.8 pounds per person per year in 1976. Since then we’ve seen a steady decline to around 104 pounds per person in recent years.2

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Meat can play a very valuable role in the diet for someone trying to lose weight. Beyond meat’s nutrient density, studies have shown that meat helps with satiety, meaning when you eat meat you’ll feel fuller longer. Feeling satisfied can reduce the likelihood that you’ll snack, lowering your overall calorie intake.3 As a complete protein, meat provides all the essential amino acids needed by people for balanced nutrition. Additional research led by Eric Berg, Ph.D. at North Dakota State University has shown that incomplete intake of essential amino acids, can lead to fat deposits in the body.4. There are also many lean meat products that offer significant nutrition benefits without a lot of calories. Overall, lean meat products fit well into a low calorie diet, and can easily be included in a weight loss program.

  4. (Table 4)