SPAM Linked to Diabetes

University of Washington researchers conducted a study of Native Americans and their consumption of the processed meat called SPAM. Of the total number of study subjects, the group that consumed the most SPAM had a 63 percent greater type 2 diabetes risk than the group consuming the least amount. One serving of SPAM (Spiced Ham) has fifteen grams of fat, and six of those are saturated fat. Also there are 767 milligrams of sodium, according to The ingredients are pork and ham, mechanically separated chicken, water, salt, modified potato starch, sugar, sodium phosphates, potassium chloride, sodium ascorbate, sodium nitrite. A fairly recent Harvard study of processed meat consumption, also found an increased risk of diabetes.

SPAM has been made and sold for over 70 years. By 1970, two billion cans had been sold. Over 100 million cans are sold each year. Oddly, Hormel touts the fact that Hawaii is a great consumer of SPAM, but obesity in Hawaii is harming the health of many people there. According to the Office of Minority Health, in the period from 2005-2007 over 63 percent of Native Hawaiians/Pacific Islanders were overweight or obese.  For males in that population, the rate was 72 percent.

So why are some indigenous peoples eating SPAM? Low cost – one 12-ounce can of the processed meat can be purchased for about $3.50, sometimes even in the two dollar range, depending on the store and if there is a discount.

Also potentially problematic are the cooking instructions, which say to fry the processed meat, but that is likely to add more fat due to the use of cooking oil or lard. If people refuse to stop eating it, steaming is a way of cooking that does not add additional fat.

Image Credit: Matthew W. Jackson/ Wiki Commons

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Diane L.
Diane L4 years ago

Pamela, that's actually kind of "funny", but we do know that the spam here is not what is meant by the word "SPAM", which if you look on any website that provides definitions, means "UNSOLICIETED ELECTRONIC MAIL".

Why would Hormel object to that word being used? It has nothing to do with a food product.

Yes, Jennifer, I'm sure eating too much SPAM or any other highly processed food loaded with salt will increase the likelihood of becoming diabetic. It's not just SPAM. Eating too many potatoes, too many pastries, too many chips or too much fact, too much ANYTHING can lead to obesity which can lead to Type II Diabetes.

Pamela W.
Pamela W4 years ago

Did everyone think it was coincidence that "junk mail" on the internet was called SPAM ???? And also strange that the makers of the "meat" never challenged that either !!! Hmmm !!!

Jennifer U.
Jennifer A4 years ago

I'm not surprised, though I'm surprised it hasn't been linked to more than diabetes yet.

J.L. A.
JL A4 years ago

could the result be from the nitrates rather than fat?

J.L. A.
JL A5 years ago

good to this still a staple for our soldiers on active duty overseas?

Onoosh G.
Onoosh G5 years ago

Ewwwwwwww... Just one more reason I'm vegetarian! And it's a shame our "First Nations" (as they call natives in Canada) are so poor they have to eat Spam. Bad nutrition meets political injustice: nice mix. :-(

Teresa Cowley
Teresa Cowley5 years ago


paula eaton
paula eaton5 years ago

Meat of any kind is linked to a host of diseases.

Eternal Gardener
Eternal Gardener5 years ago

I knew it!

Diane L.
Diane L5 years ago

Aaaah, BUT Debra, the point should be that buying SPAM is not exclusive to just "poor" people, and certainly not to Native Americans. I'm neither, and while I DO know that SPAM is not a healthy choice, I flat out like it once in awhile, so while I could buy expensive food, and DO indulge in a few gourmet cuts of meat once a week or so, and DO go out for lobster if I want to (don't very often, but COULD), I sometimes eat SPAM for a meal along with eggs. I just happen to like it "sometimes", like I sometimes want a beer, or SOMETIMES want a piece of cake. The trick is to not live on it. An occasional piece of cake isn't going to hurt anyone, but a slice at every meal surely would.