School officials who care about the physical well-being of their students as well as their intellectual development should heed the results of the latest European study. Researchers studied approximately a half million men and women in ten countries, and they found a positive association between the consumption of processed meat and early mortality. The greater the consumption of processed meat—ham, bacon, sausages, and pre-packaged meats—the greater the risk, especially of cardiovascular disease and cancer.
The culprits in processed meat seem to be fat, salt, smoke and nitrates used as preservatives. Lifestyle of the subjects, researchers found, was related to dietary intake. “In general a diet high in processed meat was linked to other unhealthy choices. Men and women who ate the most processed meat ate the fewest fruit and vegetables and were more likely to smoke. Men who ate a lot of meat also tended to have a high alcohol consumption.” These factors were taken into account in the study’s analysis.
Educators prepare students for continued learning and a career. By focusing on students’ personal, social, and intellectual development, they help students prepare for life. Processed meats in the lunchroom undercut those efforts.