HealthDay News — High consumption of red and/or processed meat is associated with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) and insulin resistance (IR), according to a study published online in the Journal of Hepatology.

Shira Zelber-Sagi, PhD, from the Tel Aviv Medical Center in Israel, and colleagues conducted a cross-sectional study among individuals aged 40 to 70 years who had a colonoscopy between 2013 and 2015 at one center in Israel.

Researchers used a food frequency questionnaire and a detailed meat questionnaire to measure meat type and cooking method. In total, 789 individuals had a valid food frequency questionnaire, and 357 had a valid meat questionnaire.

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The researchers found that after adjusting for body mass index, physical activity, smoking, alcohol, energy, saturated fat and cholesterol intake, the odds of NAFLD and IR were increased in association with high consumption of total meat (portions/day above the median; odds ratios [ORs], 1.49 and 1.63, respectively) and red and/or processed meat (ORs, 1.47 and 1.55, respectively). 

High intake of meat cooked using unhealthy methods (frying and grilling to a level of well done and very well done) and heterocyclic amines (which form after cooking meat at high temperatures for a long time) were independently associated with elevated odds of IR (ORs, 1.92 and 2.22, respectively).

“If confirmed in prospective studies, limiting the consumption of unhealthy meat types and improving preparation methods may be considered as part of NAFLD lifestyle treatment,” the authors write.

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Zelber-Sagi S, Ivancovsky-Wajcman D, Fliss Isakov N, et al. High red and processed meat consumption is associated with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and insulin resistance [published March 20, 2018]. J Hepatol. doi: 10.1016/j.jhep.2018.01.015