Red meat rethink needed for women
DIETARY advice that everyone should eat less red meat is putting millions of women at risk of anaemia.
According to a recent UK government survey, a factor that can lead to the condition is that a quarter of women of working age don’t have enough iron in their diets.
Half of teenage girls are potentially iron-deficient, too.
And despite red meat being rich in iron, a guide published by Public Health England suggests that everyone should reduce the quantity they consume.
Blood cells need iron to create haemoglobin, which in turn transports oxygen around the bloodstream. If the body lacks iron, blood is not sufficiently oxygenated, leading to fatigue and loss of concentration.
The guide, in a graphic designed to look like a plate, advises: “Eat less red and processed meat.”
It was drawn up by government health advisers concerned about a potential, but unproved, link between eating lots of red and processed meat and bowel cancer.
Nutritionist Emma Derbyshire said encouraging all population groups to eat less red and processed meat, as the guide does, was not helpful and placed women at risk of iron deficiency and related anaemia.
Robert Pickard, professor of neurobiology at Cardiff University, agreed.
“This blanket statement should be revoked. It is poor guidance and an inappropriate public health message that disadvantages women.”
Twenty-seven percent of women aged 19 to 64 – and 48% of 11-18-year-old girls in the UK – are not getting the recommended minimum daily dose of iron, according to figures published by Public Health England.
That means more than 6.5 million girls and women across Britain are at risk of iron deficiency.
The average daily consumption of red and processed meat by women of working age has dropped from 58g in 2008 to 47g in 2013 – equivalent to about three meatballs. Iron deficiency among men is almost nonexistent. – Mail on Sunday