A MISPLACED fear of fat and cholesterol that is fostering a bias against animal protein is exacerbating diseases like diabetes, obesity and heart conditions.
So says Brisbane-based registered nutritionist Anthony Power, who specialises in dietary advice to address those conditions.
Factor in unscientific beliefs that livestock production is environmentally unsound, and a tendency among health professionals to hand out generic advice to cut down on meat, and a serious nutritional crisis is brewing, he says.
“Patients are being pushed into the arms of processed carbohydrates and paying the price in terms of poorer health,” Mr Power said.
“Meat consumption is going down at the same time diabetes and heart disease is on the rise. That tells the story.”
Mr Power believes the red meat industry’s moves to target health professionals by providing resources for translating dietary recommendations on meat consumption into the reality of preparing meals is on the money.
Meat and Livestock Australia this week launched the “So What’s for Dinner” campaign.
It delivers to general practitioners and dietitians the Australian Dietary Guidelines on how much and how often to eat red meat, incorporated with meal inspirations.
MLA’s chief marketing and communications officer Lisa Sharp said ADGs were evidence-based so following them would contribute to positive health outcomes but people ate meals, not food groups, grams or serves.
So by serving up tips and tricks to pull together a variety of tasty and balanced meals from favourite protein types, the gap was being bridged.
Mr Power said it was a proactive and very strategic step on the part of the red meat industry but there was a lot of ground to make up.
“So many patients are getting sicker, diabetic or fatter but it is mountains of cereal, bread, noodles, pasta, biscuits and snacks they are eating - yet they blame meat, protein and fat,” he said.
“Generic advice to cut down on meat is failing because invariably if we eat less animal product we end up eating a lot more packet food.
“In a time-poor, budget-constrained world, when you get hungry because you’ve reduced your protein intake, you head for the muesli bars and noodles.”
Diabetes was a disease of excess glucose. This was “basic science that has been trampled over,” Mr Power said.
“Patients think by going vegan or vegetarian, they will save the environment and themselves, but when you look at the cold hard science and how they feel as a result, it fails on both counts.
“The big message I have for the majority of my patients is stop fearing meat and fat as this is where most of the well-absorbed and complete nutrients come from.”
MLA’s resources cover the specific dietary needs of all age groups, ranging from a guide to nutritious family meals for babies and toddlers through to advice for those over 65. The campaign is supported by an online platform at www.mlahealthymeals.com.au.
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