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Meat Eaters Pack on More Pounds, Regardless of Calories

(July 20) -- Losing weight isn't as simple as calories in, calories out -- at least for those who eat meat. That's the surprising result of a new study that links meat consumption to long-term weight gain.

Researchers out of Imperial College, London, tracked the dietary habits of 370,000 adults across Europe for five years.

Those who ate the least meat also gained the least weight. Eating an additional 250 grams of meat meant an extra 4.4 pounds over five years.

Because meat is so dense in calories, it makes sense that vegetarian diets would be lower in overall energy -- making weight management easier. Surprisingly, however, this study actually controlled for caloric intake and overall dietary pattern.

The team also controlled for education, physical activity and smoking habits.

In other words, an adult consuming 2,200 daily calories with relatively little meat would gain less weight than a peer with similar intake eating more meat.

Bad news for burger fans, but even worse for Atkins adherents.

"More importantly," the paper, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, reads, "our results do not support that a high-protein diet prevents obesity or promotes long-term weight loss, contrary to what has been advocated."

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