More than half (52.8%) of the women classified as having a high meat intake were obese, defined in this study as having greater than 35 % body fat. Conversely, 37.3% of women in the moderate meat intake group were obese and only 15.6% of those in the low meat intake group were obese.
This was a cross-sectional study, so the findings do not show that meat causes obesity, while that could be the case, it could also be that obesity caused women to eat more meat - like more obese women following the Atkins diet, which is rich in meat.
There are a number of physiological mechanisms by which meat could fuel weight gain. Meat proteins may elevate insulin levels, and thereby growth factors, that could influence weight and percent body fat. It has also been shown that consumption of saturated fat - most of which comes from animal products - is associated with obesity.
To sum up, it may be worth recognizing that eating less meat may be beneficial in a weight management program. It is possible to eat a healthy diet that is limited in meat. Alternative protein sources, such as lentils, nuts and legumes can provide sufficient protein and actually be beneficial in dieting.
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