Americans doubt eating processed meats is as dangerous as smoking

November 02, 2015, 4:27 PM GMT+0

Two-fifths of Americans say they eat processed meats at least a few times a week and few think meat is particularly unhealthy compared to alcohol, tobacco or sugar

The World Health Organization has updated its guidelines on carcinogens, declaring that processed meats such as bacon and sausages cause cancer. Processed meats are now in the same cancer risk category as smoking tobacco and exposure to asbestos. This is a particular worry for Americans, who eat the second highest amount of meat per capita in the entire world, averaging 270.7 pounds of meat per year.

YouGov's latest research shows that, at least compared to other unhealthy habits such as smoking or excessive alcohol and sugar consumption, Americans are not particularly worried by the risks of eating too much processed meat. In fact when excessive consumption of processed meats is directly compared with smoking, drinking and sugar consumption 37% of Americans say that excessive consumption of processed meats is the least harmful to your health. Smoking (54%) is far and away viewed as the most harmful thing that you can do to your body.

How often people eat processed meats varies widely from region to region. Overall 41% of Americans say that they eat processed meats at least a few times each week, 6% saying they eat them every day. People in the Midwest (54%) are the most meat happy, while people in the Northeast (29%) are the least likely to say that they consume bacon, ham or other products multiple times a week.

There is no similar regional split when people are asked about how healthy their lifestyle is. 76% of people say that their lifestyle is 'very' or 'somewhat' healthy, along with 78% of people in the Midwest. 31% of Southerners do, however, admit their their lifestyle is unhealthy.

Full poll results can be found here and topline results and margin of error here.