The United States is home to several iconic sandwiches, such as the Reuben, the PB&J, the BLT, and the classic Club. But health officials warn that the processed meats they often feature could risk your health.

Last year New York City authorities, with Mayor Eric Adams at the helm, developed new standards for the meals served by 11 city agencies, which will go into effect on July 1. These agencies cater to public schools, hospitals, and more throughout the city.

Their new guidelines eliminate deep-fried foods, limit the amount of sugar and sodium, and target removing processed meats by 2025.

The standards reflect the rationale behind Resolution 238, which was passed by the New York City Council in 2019. It banned processed meats from being served in New York City public schools. These include bacon, deli meat, pepperoni, and sausage.

Similar measures have been considered on the federal level, as The Dallas Express reported.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is currently deliberating phasing out flavored milk from public schools across the country. It already developed new guidelines for public school lunches in February to make meals healthier by significantly reducing sodium and added sugars.

The recent scrutiny aimed at processed meats — once considered a staple in many diets — goes hand in hand with the ongoing obesity epidemic.

Experts estimate that 58% of adults in the U.S. will be obese by 2035, a projection that hinges not only on the obesity rate witnessed today among adults but also among children.

As The Dallas Express reported, childhood obesity rates are climbing nationwide, prompting new BMI growth charts and treatment guidelines. In Texas, children ages 10-17 showed an obesity rate of 20.3% in 2019-20.

Poor eating habits are driving the growing obesity problem, and they are learned young.

“For decades, fathers and mothers have been sending children to school with low-fat chicken, turkey deli meat thinking they were doing good,” Dariush Mozaffarian, a cardiologist and professor of nutrition and medicine at Tufts University, told The Wall Street Journal. “These foods are toxic.”

A growing body of research has shown that the sodium added to foods as they are cured, smoked, or preserved directly contributes to elevated blood pressure, increasing the risks of stroke, Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and certain types of cancer.

For instance, one study co-led by Mozaffarian showed that processed meats contain approximately 400% more sodium than unprocessed meats and that consuming them carries a 75% greater risk of having an adverse health outcome.

Even a single serving of processed meat each day was linked to a 42% greater risk of heart disease and a 19% greater risk of diabetes by another study by Mozaffarian and others.

The preservatives found in processed meats are also problematic.

For instance, while helpful in extending the shelf life of foods, nitrates can generate carcinogenic chemicals known as N-nitroso compounds, the University of Minnesota’s Robert J. Turesky, who led research on the subject, told the WSJ.

A link between these preservatives and the high levels of saturated fat in processed meats has also been drawn to a higher risk of inflammation and thus of dementia.

As The Dallas Express reported, a recent study of inflammation among cancer survivors suggested that inflammation may significantly contribute to the decline in cognitive function.

Despite these health concerns, U.S. consumers continue to turn to processed meats out of both habit and convenience.

Market research firm Circana reported that sales have even gone up, with $29.4 billion recorded in 2022 compared to $22.9 billion in 2018, according to the WSJ.