Diabetes - not accurate to isolate just one factor

The report that the consumption of red meat raises the risk of diabetes is informative, but how much reliance can we place on a single factor in a disease that has multiple factorial origins (A serving of meat a day raises risk of diabetes; Sept 6).

Diabetes is related to genes, obesity, ageing, dietary factors, lack of physical activity and other causes yet unknown.

It is misleading to isolate a single aspect and make it accountable for all.

The report was based on the survey of 45,411 Chinese, 45 to 71 in age, by interviewing each of them twice over a period of 10 years regarding their red meat consumption.

I feel that most of us cannot even remember what we ate, for example, in the past two weeks.

Furthermore, the Chinese habit of sharing common plates of food, unlike the Western system of individual servings, makes it even more difficult to know how much each individual consumes.

There are only three types of food we consume besides minerals, vitamins and other chemical compounds.

Our calorie-producing food comes only from carbohydrates, protein and fat; they are interchangeable in our body except for certain essential amino acids, which we cannot synthesise ourselves and must come from consumed proteins.

Most probably, the total amount of each of the three types of calorie-producing food we consume is more relevant to the development of diabetes than a single factor.

Ong Siew Chey (Dr)