Diabetes can be genetic and hereditary but it is also highly impacted by food choices. According to a new study by Harvard T.H Chan School of Public Health which was published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, people who eat just two servings of red meat a week are at a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes than those who don’t.

The study was conducted among 216,695 participants for a number of years and it found that participants who ate both processed and unprocessed red meat had a 62% higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes. 

Each additional serving of red meat carries a 46% risk.

Diabetes and dietary guidelines

Postdoctoral author and research fellow in the Department of Nutrition, Xiao Gu said, “Our findings strongly support dietary guidelines that recommend limiting the consumption of red meat, and this applies to both processed and unprocessed red meat.” 

The New York Post reported that according to data from the United States Department of Agriculture in 2021, American consumed 30 billion pounds of beef which is equivalent to almost 60 pounds per person per year. 

Type 2 diabetes brings an increased risk of cardiovascular and kidney disease, cancer and dementia. 

Changing the way you eat

The best thing you can do for yourself and also as a preventive measure is to change the way you eat. 

Senior author of the study on diabetes, Walter Willet says that changing the way we eat can make a big difference. He recommends substituting a serving of nuts and legumes for one of meat which is associated with a 30% lower risk of type 2 diabetes. 


Cutting back on meat does a lot for the environment too. One study by Oxford University states that if the biggest meat eaters in the United Kingdom were to cut back and switch to low-meat diets, the environmental impact would be equiavalent to eight million cars being taken off the road. 

The Nature and Communications journal says that replacing half of meat products with plant based alternatives can reduce pollution by as much as one third by 2050. 

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