September 08, 2017
2 min read

Red meat, poultry consumption increases type 2 diabetes risk

You've successfully added to your alerts. You will receive an email when new content is published.

Click Here to Manage Email Alerts

We were unable to process your request. Please try again later. If you continue to have this issue please contact

Woon-Puay Koh
Woon-Puay Koh

Ethnic Chinese adults who substituted one daily serving of red meat or poultry with fish or shellfish decreased their risk for type 2 diabetes by approximately 25%, according to findings published in the American Journal of Epidemiology.

Woon-Puay Koh, MBBS, PhD, professor at Duke-NUS Medical School and the Saw Swee Hock School of Public Health at the National University of Singapore, and colleagues evaluated data from the Singapore Chinese Health Study on 45,411 adults (mean age, 55.2 years; 57.3% women) to determine the relationships between red meat, poultry, fish and shellfish intakes with the risk for type 2 diabetes. Follow-up was a mean 10.9 years.

Participants completed a semiquantitative food-frequency questionnaire that included 165 commonly consumed food items to report on usual diet at the baseline interview. Participants were divided into four groups based on their intake of meat with the first quartile used as the reference category.

Through follow-up, there were 5,207 incident cases of type 2 diabetes. Compared with the first quartile, participants with intake in the fourth quartile had an increased risk for type 2 diabetes with red meat intake (HR = 1.23; 95% CI, 1.14-1.33), poultry intake (HR = 1.15; 95% CI, 1.06-1.24) but not for fish/shellfish intake (HR = 1.07; 95% CI, 0.99-1.16). The risk for type 2 diabetes was 26% lower when one daily serving of red meat was replaced with fish/shellfish and 22% lower when one daily serving of poultry was replaced with fish/shellfish. There was no change in risk for type 2 diabetes when substituting poultry for red meat.

“This Asian study confirms the findings in Western populations that high red meat intake could increase the risk of diabetes, and this is partly attributable to the heme-iron content of red meat,” Koh told Endocrine Today. “We don’t need to remove meat from the diet entirely. However, it is advisable to reduce the frequency of intake to a few times a week, and reduce the amount of each intake, especially for red meat. It is also advisable to replace red meat with white meat such as chicken breast and fish, or with plant-based protein food and dairy products, to reduce the risk of diabetes.” – by Amber Cox

For more information:

Woon-Puay Koh, MBBS, PhD, can be reached at

Disclosures: The authors report no relevant financial disclosures.