Red Meat Is Not the Enemy

Kaitlin Flood

Summary

In, “Red Meat is Not the Enemy,” Aaron E. Carroll, sought to illuminate the cultural practice of placing nutritional blame on a singular food group for widespread health related ailments and mortality. The article provides the example and a link to the Agricultural Fact Book for 2001-02 which offers evidence that Americans are consuming more meat than in previous decades however, that is also accompanied by an increased intake of fruit, vegetables, grains and sweeteners. Carroll, a professor at Indiana University School of Medicine, then quotes a 2013 meta-analysis that found people who consume red meat twice or more a day have a relative 29% increase in all-cause mortality as compared to people who do not consume red meat on the same scope. Conversely, Carroll references another article that substantiates his claim that, “everything we eat is associated with both higher and lower rates of cancer.” He asserts that the, “real problem [is] we eat more calories than we need,” and furthermore, studies that conclude red meat as the culprit for health related ailments such as cardiovascular disease or obesity and mortality are generally flawed. Overall, Carroll’s message in, “Red Meat Is Not the Enemy,” is that the bigger picture should not bias a particular food group over another as the malefactor of health related ailments as it pertains to nutrition.

Critique

Aaron E. Carroll is a professor of pediatrics at Indiana University School of Medicine. Professor Carroll blogs on health research and policy at The Incidental Economist and is a regular contributor on nytimes.com, The Upshot, where “Red Meat Is Not the Enemy” was obtained.

Carroll offers a medically educated view of nutrition and its application in the body however his article lacks the strong evidentiary takeaway that its title suggests. Instead, the article seems to take on the theme of practicing moderation in diet over dispelling the claim that red meat is a culprit to good health. Carroll makes several valid points that Americans, in general, tend to vilify a singular nutrition source as the cause for widespread unhealthiness but he fails to prove that red meat is actually not the enemy. While Carroll may have practical experience in the medical arena, his expertise in pediatrics is somewhat irrelevant given the topic pertains to adults, or at most, young adults. Further, his (assumed) lack of clinical experience within a nutritional field makes obvious that this is an opinion piece punctuated by a couple of significant studies and analyses. It should be considered that the source, The Upshot, is a news outlet largely dominated by articles that are synthesized with bias. With that in mind, the studies cited within the article do deliver important, albeit specific, information regarding food types and the affect their consumption in large amounts has on the body. However, their explanation and use in this article do not follow in tune with the claim originally set forth. Unbiased information regarding this topic can be found at cdc.gov.

Link to "Red Meat Is Not the Enemy"