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Red meat consumption and type 2 diabetes mellitus risk: A systematic review of the evidence

Emma Derbyshire (Nutritional Insight Ltd, Worcester Park, UK)
Carrie Ruxton (Nutrition Communications, Cupar, UK)

Nutrition & Food Science

ISSN: 0034-6659

Article publication date: 13 July 2015




This review aims to evaluate and review literature published in the area of rising concerns that red meat consumption may be associated with risk of type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM), although there have been discrepancies between study findings, and put the findings into context.


Using the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) guidelines, a systematic literature review was undertaken to locate and summarise relevant studies which included epidemiological and clinical studies published between 2004 and 2014.


A total of 23 studies were found, with 21 epidemiological and two clinical studies meeting the criteria. Overall, the totality of the evidence indicates that while processed meat consumption appears to be associated with T2DM risk, the effect is much weaker for red meat, with some associations attenuated after controlling for body weight parameters. Where studies have considered high intakes in relation to T2DM risk, meat intake has tended to exceed 600 g per week. Therefore, keeping red meat intakes within recommended guidelines of no more than 500 g per week, while opting for lean cuts or trimming fat, would seem to be an evidence-based response.

Research limitations/implications

The majority of studies conducted to date have been observational cohorts which cannot determine cause and effect. Most of these used food frequency questionnaires which are known to be subject to misclassification errors (Brown, 2006). Clearly, more randomised controlled trials are needed to establish whether red meat consumption impacts on markers of glucose control. Until then, conclusions can only be viewed as speculative.


This paper provides an up-to-date systematic review of the literature, looking at inter-relationships between red meat consumption and T2DM risk.



This review was funded by the Meat Advisory Panel which is supported by an unrestricted grant from BPEX, EBLEX and HCC (Meat Promotion Wales). BPEX and EBLEX are divisions of the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB). The views expressed in this paper are those of the authors alone, and AHDB had no role in selecting papers or writing the review. For further information, see


Derbyshire, E. and Ruxton, C. (2015), "Red meat consumption and type 2 diabetes mellitus risk: A systematic review of the evidence", Nutrition & Food Science, Vol. 45 No. 4, pp. 524-541.



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