Meat consumption is associated with obesity and central obesity among US adults

Int J Obes (Lond). 2009 Jun;33(6):621-8. doi: 10.1038/ijo.2009.45. Epub 2009 Mar 24.


Background: Meats are high in energy and fat content, and thus may be associated with higher risk of obesity. Many controversies remain regarding the association between meat consumption (MC) and obesity.

Objectives: The aim of this study was to analyze the associations between MC and obesity assessed using body mass index (BMI > or = 30) and waist circumference (> or = 102 cm in men and > or = 88 cm in women) among US adults.

Methods: Nationally representative data collected in the 1999-2004 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) were used. Linear and logistic regression analyses were conducted to test the associations between MC and adiposity measures controlling for potential confounders.

Results: Considerable differences existed in MC across sociodemographic groups among US adults. Those who consumed more meat had a much higher daily total energy intake, for example, those in the upper vs bottom quintiles consumed around 700 more kcal day(-1) (P<0.05). Regression models showed consistent positive associations between MC and BMI, waist circumference, obesity and central obesity, respectively. Using quintile 1 (low MC) as the reference, the association (odds ratio (OR) and 95% confidence interval (CI)) between total MC quintiles and obesity were 1.03 (0.88; 1.21; 2nd quintile), 1.17 (1.00; 1.38), 1.27 (1.08; 1.51) and 1.27 (1.08; 1.49; upper quintile), respectively; whereas that with central obesity was 1.13 (0.96-1.33), 1.31 (1.10; 1.54), 1.36 (1.17-1.60) and 1.33 (1.13; 1.55), respectively.

Conclusions: These US national cross-sectional data show positive associations between MC and risk for obesity and central obesity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Body Mass Index
  • Confidence Intervals
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Diet / adverse effects*
  • Energy Intake / physiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Meat / adverse effects*
  • Meat Products / adverse effects
  • Obesity / epidemiology
  • Obesity / etiology*
  • Obesity, Abdominal / epidemiology
  • Obesity, Abdominal / etiology
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Waist Circumference