Red meat re­think needed for women

The Star Early Edition - - NEWS - STEPHEN ADAMS

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

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