Red Meat Consumption Linked to Increased Type 2 Diabetes Risk

A recent study has shed light on the potential health risks associated with regular consumption of red meat. The findings suggest that individuals who consume red meat more than once a week may be at a heightened risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.

Key Takeaways:

  • Consuming more than one serving of red meat per week is associated with a higher risk of Type 2 diabetes.
  • The study analyzed health data from 216,695 participants over a period of up to 36 years.
  • Over 22,000 participants developed Type 2 diabetes during the study period.
  • Those who reported the highest red meat consumption had a 62% higher risk of developing the condition.
  • Every additional daily serving of red meat was linked to a 46% increased risk for processed meat and 24% for unprocessed meat.
  • Replacing red meat with nuts and legumes can reduce the risk of Type 2 diabetes by 30%.

Diving Deeper into the Findings

The study, which was published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, analyzed health data from a whopping 216,695 participants. Over the span of up to 36 years, more than 22,000 of these participants were diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. The researchers discovered that those who reported the highest consumption of red meat had a staggering 62% higher risk of developing the condition compared to those who consumed the least amount of red meat.

Furthermore, the study estimated that every additional daily serving of red meat was associated with a 46% increased risk for processed red meat and a 24% increased risk for unprocessed red meat.

The Broader Context

With over 37 million Americans diagnosed with diabetes, and 90% to 95% of them having Type 2 diabetes, the findings of this study are particularly significant. The condition predominantly develops in individuals over the age of 45, but there has been a concerning rise in cases among children, teens, and young adults.

Xiao Gu, a postdoctoral research fellow at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health’s Department of Nutrition and one of the study’s authors, emphasized the importance of dietary guidelines that recommend limiting red meat consumption. This advice applies to both processed and unprocessed red meat.

Seeking Healthier Alternatives

The research team also delved into potential healthier alternatives to red meat. They found that replacing a serving of red meat with nuts and legumes could lead to a 30% lower risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. Such dietary shifts not only promote better health but also have positive environmental implications.

Senior author Walter Willett, a professor of epidemiology and nutrition, suggested a limit of about one serving per week of red meat for those aiming to optimize their health and wellbeing.


The link between red meat consumption and Type 2 diabetes risk underscores the importance of informed dietary choices. As the global community becomes more health-conscious, studies like these provide valuable insights that can guide individuals in making healthier lifestyle decisions.