Scientists in the United States have found that native Americans who have a diet rich in processed meat face an increased risk of developing diabetes as compared to those who rarely ate it. Processed meats, generically known as spam, are now common on reservations, as they are provided freely on a scheme by the US Department of Agriculture, and native Americans are also particularly prone to the condition – with almost half developing it by the time they are 55.
The study was published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition and involved analysis of 2,000 Native Americans with an average age of 35 living in North and South Dakota, Oklahoma and Arizona. The participants, none of whom had diabetes when the study bega, responded to a survey on their diet and a range of health and lifestyle factors, with a follow-up questionnaire five years later showing that 243 people had developed diabetes in the meantime.
Of the 500 participants who consumed the most processed meat, 85 were keyworddiagnosed with diabetes, while for the 500 people who consumed the least, only 44 had developed the condition. Many experts now argue that processed meats should be taken off the food assistance programmes.
Lead author Amanda Fretts commented “A lot of communities in this study are in very rural areas with limited access to grocery stores… and they want to eat foods that have a long shelf life.”

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