Scientists call out claims made by anti-meat Lancet study

Scientists call out claims made by anti-meat Lancet study

In a letter published by The Lancet, a group of international scientists have called on the authors of a 2019 study, which claimed a 36 fold higher estimate of death attributable to red meat intake, to address questions on the reliability of the study’s data.

The authors of the Global Burden of Diseases (GBD) study, which was published in The Lancet in 2019, have previously refused to have their claims peer reviewed.

Within their letter, the team of scientists, which included Professors Alice Stanton and Frederic Leroy, said that they had some “serious concerns” about the 2019 study.

The group queried the “substantial changes” in the GBD 2019 estimates of the disease burdens attributable to many of the dietary risk factors compared with the GBD 2017 estimates. They highlighted that the most substantial change in the estimates is the disease burden attributed to diets high in unprocessed red meat.

The letter references data from the 2019 study in which a diet high in red meat was reported to be responsible for 896,000 deaths. By contrast, the GBD 2017 analysis only attributed 25,000 deaths and red meat intake was the least important of 15 dietary risk factors recorded. Hence, by comparison with previous estimates, the 2019 estimates of deaths attributable to unprocessed red meat intake have increased 36-fold.

“Leading people down the wrong path”

Commenting on the letter’s publication, the British Meat Processors Association (BMPA) said: “The letter is important because policy makers responsible for driving public health could be leading people down the wrong path if they’ve been influenced by incorrect information.”

Bill Jermey, chair of the Institute of Meat (IoM), said: “It is really good to see the alleged science on red meat consumption being challenged by leading independent scientists. The switch in governmental thinking caused by the 2019 “Eat Lancet” report has been questioned for some time. Now there are some real questions to be answered by the original authors.”

The team’s full letter can be found on The Lancet’s website, here.

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