Research Experts, Bacon and the Paleo Diet

A study published by “research experts” at the Harvard School of Public Health, showed that eating bacon, a hot dog or deli meats daily significantly boosts type 2 diabetes. The results of this  major study, which was released on August 10th, is the largest study of its kind and was published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.  But is it possible that there are major flaws in this study? It is known that incidence of type 2 diabetes increases with the consumption of carbohydrates, since too many carbohydrates causes, initially, insulin resistance, then diabetes.   Since for some on the Paleo diet, bacon is of major importance, let’s look at the method of investigation used by these expertsto determine the results.

Hot dog with all the trimmings. What else did the study participants eat? Photo by Arnold Gatilao

The assertion of the research experts is:

Eating 50 grams of processed red meat every day increased a person’s diabetes risk by 51 percent, while eating 100 grams of unprocessed red meat each day, about the size of a deck of cards, boosted the risk by 19 percent.

“Clearly, the results from this study have huge public health implications given the rising type 2 diabetes epidemic and increasing consumption of red meats worldwide,” said senior author Frank Hu.

How did they come to the conclusion that eating processed meat caused type 2 diabetes?

The data for the study came from questionnaire responses from more than 204,000 people in US nurses and health professionals’ studies. The subjects were tracked for between 14 and 28 years.

Researchers also updated a meta-analysis that included their data with other studies covering more than 442,000 participants…. Read the article here….

So, the researchers received their information from questionnaires, which are not a terribly reliable source of information.  Were the study participants asked about what else they ate? Usually when one eats a hot dog, a bun is also involved. People also usually eat deli meat in a sandwich, which involves two slices of bread. Did they have chips or french fries with their sandwich or hot dog? What brand of hot dogs, bacon  or processed meats were consumed? What else did these people eat through out the day? Were these questions asked? Answers to these questions could show other reasons for the rise in type 2 diabetes. Keep in mind that people who eat processed meats and hot dogs on a regular basis are also more likely to be eating other less than healthy processed foods which are high in refined carbohydrates. These foods are much more likely to cause diabetes than the processed meats.

That’s not to say that hot dogs or processed meats are health foods, far from it! These should be avoided but for entirely different reasons. The source of meat for these types of products are animals from Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs),  which are fed a species inappropriate diet, and given hormones and antibiotics. The quality of their meat is very poor and can lead to other health problems for those who eat the meat.

Regardless of what the research experts say, eating bacon on the Paleo diet will not raise the risk of type 2 diabetes, since we know it’s the carbs - grains, starches, sugars, etc. - which cause the disease.

Other sources:


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5 Responses to Research Experts, Bacon and the Paleo Diet

  1. Cynthia August 13, 2011 at 5:50 pm

    Right on! Excellent post! :-)

  2. Cara November 14, 2011 at 6:05 pm

    Please. The reason bacon is tied to Type 2 diabetes is because of all the crap people eat with it. Loads of bread or toast and home fries or hash browns. It’s not the fat that is making people fat. It’s the sugar, grains, rice and potatoes.

    • Lila Solnick November 14, 2011 at 6:11 pm

      Hi Cara,
      You are absolutely correct. It’s all the carbs that people eat with the bacon. God forbid you don’t have toast with those eggs and bacon!
      Thanks for commenting.

  3. Cara November 14, 2011 at 6:17 pm

    Thanks, Lila. I love this lifestyle. I haven’t been doing it for very long, but I feel wonderful. I’ve never been a huge candy eater and I don’t miss bread, rice or potatoes. I’m looking forward to Thanksgiving for some guilt-free skin and dark meat (and maybe half a spoonful of mashed potatoes). I’m off to hunt for a Paleo gravy thickener.

    • Lila Solnick November 14, 2011 at 7:39 pm

      I think arrowroot might be Paleo approved. At least it’s not corn or potato starch. From

      There’s one problem with not allowing flour or cornstarch in the paleo diet - you can’t thicken sauces. Actually, you can - if you use arrowroot. At one time, in fact, the preferred starch for sauce-making in fancier kitchens was arrowroot, because the sauces end up clearer and glossier. However, because it was expensive, it fell out of favour. These days, you can pick up a decent-sized bag of arrowroot for around $10, at least in my neck of the woods, and it will last for a long time if you only use it for making sauces.

      Happy Thanksgiving!