(HealthDay News) – For U.S. adults, increasing red meat consumption is associated with a subsequent increase in the risk of type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM), according to a study published online June 17 in JAMA Internal Medicine.

An Pan, PhD, from the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston, and colleagues examined the correlation between changes in red meat consumption during a four-year period and the subsequent risk of T2DM among U.S. adults. Participants included 26,357 men from the Health Professionals Follow-up Study; 48,709 women in the Nurses’ Health Study; and 74,077 women in the Nurses’ Health Study II. Validated food frequency questionnaires were used to assess diet, and were updated every four years.

After multivariate adjustment, the researchers found that, in each cohort, increasing red meat intake during a four-year interval correlated with an increased risk of T2DM during the subsequent four years. Increasing red meat intake of >0.5 servings per day correlated with a significantly increased risk in the subsequent four-year period, compared with the reference group of no change in intake (pooled hazard ratio, 1.48). After further adjustment for initial body mass index and concurrent weight gain, the correlation was slightly attenuated (pooled hazard ratio, 1.3). From baseline to the first four years of follow-up, reducing red meat consumption by >0.5 servings per day correlated with a significant reduction in risk (pooled hazard ratio, 0.86) during the entire follow-up period.

“Our results add further evidence that limiting red meat consumption over time confers benefits for T2DM prevention,” the authors write.

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