Objective: To evaluate red and processed meat intake, and the impact meat consumption has on diet quality and the environment.
Design: A large cross-sectional health survey performed in São Paulo, Brazil.
Setting: Diet was assessed by two 24 h dietary recalls. Usual intakes were calculated using the Multiple Source Method. The World Cancer Research Fund recommendation of an average of 71.4 g/d was used as the cut-off point to estimate excessive red and processed meat consumption. To investigate the relationship between meat consumption and diet quality we used the Brazilian Healthy Eating Index Revised. The environmental impact was analysed according to estimates of CO2 equivalent emissions from meat consumption.
Subjects: Brazilians (n 1677) aged 19 years and older were studied.
Results: The mean red and processed meat intake was 138 g/d for men and 81 g/d for women. About 81% of men and 58% of women consumed more meat than recommended. Diet quality was inversely associated with excessive meat intake in men. In Brazil alone, greenhouse gas emissions from meat consumption, in 2003, were estimated at approximately 18,071,988 tonnes of CO2 equivalents, representing about 4% of the total CO2 emitted by agriculture.
Conclusions: The excessive meat intake, associated with poorer diet quality observed, support initiatives and policies advising to reduce red and processed meat intake to within the recommended amounts, as part of a healthy and environmentally sustainable diet.