KNAU and Arizona News
4:00 pm
Wed February 15, 2012

Study shows canned meat increases risk of diabetes among Native Americans

A recent study shows that Native Americans who eat canned meat more than twice a week double their risk of developing diabetes.

Canned meat such as Spam is a big seller among rural shoppers, especially Native Americans.

“About 68 percent of American Indians in the study consumed processed meat twice a week,” says Amanda Frett says, an epidemiologist at the University of Washington.

Growing up on the Micmac Reservation, Fretts saw many relatives afflicted by diabetes.

Fifty percent of Native Americans nationwide develop diabetes by age 55.

Fretts says part of the problem is that many rural communities are far from grocery stores, so  people rely on foods with a long shelf life such as Spam.

Fretts says public health workers should partner with Native communities to find solutions such as establishing local farmers markets.