freelance journalist, print journalist, online journalist, copywriter, content editor, freelance editor, health and lifestyle, blogger Meat is murder (on your waistline) | Christine Morgan - Journalist
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I can’t tell you how thrilled I was to read today’s headline, Eat less meat to lose weight (and numerous variations thereof). Hah, take that all you Atkins-obsessed flesh-munchers, I thought. Finally, a chance to promote eating less meat after all those years of high-protein diets (yes, of course, I am a vegetarian, goes without saying).

But my hopes were soon dashed when I looked beyond the headlines. As is often the case, the devil is in the details with this one. Imperial College London researchers analysed the diets of almost 400,000 Europeans – a fair number, to give them their dues – and they discovered eating meat was associated with weight gain.

Okay, so far, so good. But how much weight gain, exactly. Er,well, eating an extra 250g of meat a day (that’s a small steak – every day) produced a weight gain of… wait for it… 2kg, or 5lbs, over FIVE years. I’ll repeat that, in case you suspect my fingers might have slipped on the keyboard. Two kilograms (or 5lb) over five years.

Since, to gain a pound of weight, you need to eat 3,500 more calories than your body needs, that means the steak-eaters ate an extra 17,500 calories over five years. That’s just 3,500 extra a year. Blimey. That’s hardly excessive, is it? On Christmas Day, for instance, many people in the UK will pack in more than 5,000 in one sitting.

Oh no, hang on, the researchers claim the number of calories didn’t change, just the amount of meat. So maybe there is something in it after all. But you’ve got to admit, the figures aren’t exactly startling.

So if you’re thinking about eating less meat in order to shift a few pounds, I won’t discourage you. There are, after all, many other health benefits of cutting down on meat (reduced risk for heart disease, cancer and others). And it would make me happy too.