According to a European study, people who eat more meat are likely to gain weight over time even if they eat the same number of calories as their peers.

The research showed that people gain 4.4 more pounds over a five-year period for every extra 250 grams of meat (roughly equivalent to a 450 calorie steak) they ate daily. Researchers said the link remained even after accounting for total calories consumed, physical activity levels, and other variables.

Poultry was the meat most strongly associated with annual weight change. Red meat was only weakly linked to weight gain, Meatingplace reported.

Researchers said participants who had changed their diets due to weight loss attempts or illness likely drove the association, though misreporting of food intakes was also possible.

When participants who had had previous illnesses or were likely to misreport what they were eating were removed from consideration, processed meat had the strongest association with weight gain over a five-year period.

The findings of the study, which were published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, come from a new analysis of data from 103,455 men and 270,348 women aged 25 to 70 as part of the EPIC study in 10 European countries. In most cases, initial weights were measured using standardized procedures, and follow-up weights were self-reported. Dietary assessment methods varied by countries but included self-administered questionnaires.