‘Spam’ Linked to Diabetes in Native Americans

by InvestorPlace Staff | January 31, 2012 12:49 pm

Seems there’s no escaping news about diabetes these days. Lately, we’ve seen an outpouring of nutritional criticism over celebrity chef Paula Deen’s new deal to promote Novartis’s (NYSE:NVS[1]) diabetes drug Victoza. That endorsement came along with the news that Southern cooking specialist Deen suffers from Type 2 diabetes. Then on Friday, the Food & Drug Administration approved a new diabetes treatment from Amylin (NASDAQ:AMLN[2]) that holds great promise. The new drug, Bydureon[3], is a once-a-week injectable and adds a new weapon to combat this growing scourge.

And it couldn’t have happened a moment too soon. Today’s diabetes news comes from The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition[4], which reports in a new study that Native Americans who eat processed meat were at higher risk of developing diabetes. Much to the likely chagrin of Hormel (NYSE:HRL[5]), which makes the brand-name Spam processed meat, the study referred to the processed meat commonly consumed by Native Americans on reservations as “spam.” The lower-case spam is an often-used term for a wide variety of processed meats, especially those that come in a can.

That sort of food “is available freely to many Native Americans on reservations as part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s food assistance program,” as a Reuters[6] report on the study points out. University of Washington researcher and a lead author of the AJCN study told Reuters: “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.”

The American Meat Institute, which represents companies that process meat, told the news service that “processed meats are a safe and nutritious part of a balanced diet.” And Fretts added that “more follow-up” needs to be done before drawing any conclusions about the spam-diabetes connection.


  1. NVS: http://studio-5.financialcontent.com/investplace/quote?Symbol=NVS
  2. AMLN: http://studio-5.financialcontent.com/investplace/quote?Symbol=AMLN
  3. The new drug, Bydureon: https://investorplace.com/2012/01/amylin-diabetes-drug-bydureon-approval/
  4. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition: http://www.ajcn.org/content/early/2012/01/24/ajcn.111.029942.abstract
  5. HRL: http://studio-5.financialcontent.com/investplace/quote?Symbol=HRL
  6. Reuters: http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/01/31/us-spam-idUSTRE80U05F20120131

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