Health implications over red meat misconceptions

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A shocking proportion of people are confused about whether pork or lamb are classed as red meat, leaving them with worrying misconceptions about their diets, new survey findings reveal.

The Meat Advisory Panel found that only 47 per cent of people who responded to a OnePoll survey in Yorkshire correctly named pork as a type of red meat, and 26 per cent did not realise that lamb fell into the same category.

Professor Robert Pickard, member of the Meat Advisory Panel, said: “Lean red meat is a valuable source of iron and vitamin D, not to mention protein, zinc and other important nutrients. But unfortunately far too many people appear to be losing sight of the importance of meat within a healthy diet.

“This gap in knowledge could have a detrimental impact on our health; a lack of iron can lead to anaemia, whilst a lack of vitamin D is putting people at risk of bone problems, including osteomalacia in adults. Some research suggests that not getting enough vitamin D may also be linked to heart conditions, diabetes, asthma and cognitive impairment in older adults.”

The survey of 2,000 people nationwide also found that only five per cent of respondents in Yorkshire were aware of women’s greater need for iron as part of a healthy, balanced diet. More than two in five (45 per cent) assumed they required the same amount as men and over a quarter (27 per cent) had no idea whether there were any gender differences.

Dr Carrie Ruxton, a dietitian, said: “Red meat is one of the best sources of easily absorbed iron and it is particularly important for women to understand the value of including beef, pork or lamb as a regular part of their diets.

“Low iron levels can lead to a host of niggling health problems including tiredness, poor concentration, headaches, feeling short of breath, irritability and dizziness.

“Symptoms are easily overlooked, but other warning signs include pale skin, brittle nails, cracked lips, muscle pain and feeling the cold.”