Ultra-Processed Food Linked to Premature Death

Ultra-processed foods
Ultra-processed foods | Image by beats1/Shutterstock

Ultra-processed foods may be convenient, but research indicates they can also lead to an array of health problems if consumed too often.

A new study published in the British Medical Journal last month found evidence to suggest that an ultra-processed diet leads to a heightened risk of premature death and more. The umbrella review examined data from over 9 million people participating in 14 different studies and even more meta-analyses.

In 71% of the pooled analyses, a direct link between a person’s consumption of ultra-processed food and the risk of an adverse health outcome was discovered. This was especially true for all-cause mortality, cardiovascular disease-related mortality, heart disease-related mortality, type 2 diabetes, and depression. A moderate increase in risk for obesity, mental health issues, and certain types of cancer — such as colorectal cancer — was also found.

As previously covered in The Dallas Express, other studies have made similar claims that a highly processed diet contributes to chronic illness and disease. This association may come down to the fact that consuming ultra-processed foods can lead to weight gain, as Jeff Meyerhardt, an oncologist at Dana Farber Cancer Institute said, according to NPR.

Ultra-processed foods tend to be low in nutritional value and high in calories, refined sugars, salt, and fat. They can be identified via the ingredients listed on the nutritional label, such as the inclusion of high-fructose corn syrup, hydrogenated oils, or various additives for color, texture, and so on.

Research has found that the body processes calories differently depending on their quality. Low-protein diets, for instance, are linked to fewer feelings of satiety and thus overeating, as The Dallas Express reported.

The latest study’s authors point out that global diets have shifted towards containing more ultra-processed items, with these foods comprising an estimated 58% of calories consumed in the United States. The authors suggest that exposure to such foods be limited due to the study’s results “rais[ing] concerns about overall diet quality and the health of populations more broadly.”

Last year, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration hired its first Deputy Commissioner for Human Foods, James “Jim” Jones, to better address various concerns, including food safety and diet-related diseases.

“The science around added sugars, saturated fat, and sodium intake is quite clear,” Jones told NPR. “We will also likely make progress on reducing consumption of ultra-processed food because there is a high correlation between those three ingredients and ultra-processed food.”

Support our non-profit journalism

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Continue reading on the app
Expand article