Processed meat seems to be a staple of the American diet.
A new study published in the Journal of Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics has found that Americans eat as much processed meat as they did nearly two decades ago – despite all being associated with a higher risk of obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease Diseases and some cancers.
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The study, published Friday, analyzed data from the National Health and Nutrition Survey, which identified between 1999 and 2016 various types of meat consumption among 43,995 US adults aged 20 and over.
Processed meat containing red meat and poultry by salting, smoking, fermenting, smoking or adding "chemical preservatives" was considered by Americans to be more common than consumption of unprocessed red meat and fish or shellfish.
The most processed meat was 39 percent midday meat, 24 percent sausage, 9 percent hot dogs and ham, and 5 percent bacon. Most of the goods purchased were shops and fast food restaurants, as the study showed.
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The consumption of poultry also increased and for the first time exceeded unprocessed red meat. Consumption of fish and shellfish did not change throughout the study.
"Despite clear evidence of an association between processed meat and cancer risk, the consumption of processed meat did not change among adults in the United States in the period of study (1999-2016)." said senior investigator Fang Fang Zhang, MD, PhD, Friedman School of Food Science and Technology, Tufts University, Boston, MA, USA. "While factors other than health (such as social, cultural and economic factors) can influence American dietary habits, a lack of awareness of processed meat-related health risks may have contributed to consumption over the last 18 years did not change.
According to a press release on the study, researchers are confident that their findings will help elucidate the health risks associated with processed meats and "prioritize public health policies."
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The World Health Organization has in the past linked meat-based diets to an increase in colorectal cancer. The International Agency for Research on Cancer, part of the WHO, identified red meat – including beef, lamb and pork – as a "likely" carcinogen in its 2015 Group 2A list.