Health Care

Heavily processed food like ready meals and ice-cream linked to early death

Heavily processed food like ready meals and ice-cream linked to early death”

Eating large amounts of heavily processed food, such as ready meals and packaged snacks, can increase the risk for stroke, heart attack, and early death. (The Mediterranean diet was ranked the best overall diet by experts.) The most commonly consumed ultra-processed foods included processed meats, sugar-sweetened beverages, dairy products, and French fries.

The first study by the University of Navarra in Spain, followed 19,899 people for 10 years and assessed their diet every other year. They typically contain a higher amount of total fat, saturated fat, added sugar and salt, along with lower amounts of the good stuff, like fiber and vitamins.

You probably already know that being overweight and not exercising can lead to chronic disease and an increased mortality risk, but eating ultra-processed foods may up your risk of dying even more.

The term "ultra-processed" foods is being used as a way of grouping food by how much industrial processing that has been undertaken, reports the BBC.

The study also took into account age, sex, body mass index and other lifestyle factors like smoking and physical activity.

A recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association had revealed consumption of 354ml glass of fruit juice a day is linked to a 24% increase in premature death. And the fourth quarter group was significantly more likely to die from any cause: "Participants in the highest quarter of ultra-processed food consumption had a 62% relatively higher hazard of all cause mortality compared with those in the lowest quarter (multivariable adjusted hazard ratio 1.62, 95% confidence interval 1.13 to 2.33), with a significant dose-response relation (P for trend=0.005)". Additionally, each incremental 10 per cent increase in ultra-processed intake was correlated with a 12 per cent uptick in disease risk.

The first study took place at the University of Paris and researchers gathered details on the diets and health of more than 105,000 people while the second study was carried out at the University of Navarra in Spain and monitored the health of almost 20,000 people from 1999 to 2014. "In the case of Spain, consumption of ultra-processed food nearly tripled between 1990 and 2010".

In the meantime, policy makers "should shift their priorities away from food reformulation - which risks positioning ultra-processed food as a solution to dietary problems - towards a greater emphasis on promoting the availability, affordability, and accessibility of unprocessed or minimally processed foods", they conclude.

This story was reported from Los Angeles.

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