Health Care

New evidence links ultra-processed foods with various health risks

New evidence links ultra-processed foods with various health risks”

For every 10 deaths involving people who consumed low amounts of ultra-processed food, there were 16 deaths among people who ate at least four ultra-processed foods a day.

Researchers called for policies to urgently limit people's intake of such foods which include fizzy drinks, sugary cereals, packaged baked goods and snacks, dehydrated vegetable soups and reconstituted meat and fish products.

The public should be encouraged to eat fresh where possible, the researchers said, though more evidence is needed to understand the effect of highly-processed foods.

Consuming "ultra-processed" foods could increase the risk of cardiovascular disease and death, new research suggests.

The first study, carried out by scientists from France and Brazil, included more than 105,000 French adults.

Researchers then monitored rates of diseases over 10 years (2009-2018) and found that a 10 per cent increase of the amount of ultra-processed food in the diet was associated with significantly higher rates of overall cardiovascular disease, coronary heart disease, and cerebrovascular disease (increase of 12%, 13%, and 11% respectively).

The study quizzed nearly 20,000 university graduates on their diets.

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The term comes from a way of classifying food by how much industrial processing it has been through.

Taxation and marketing restrictions have been proposed to curb consumption of ultra-processed food, following the results of two new studies.

They found that eating more than four servings of "ultra-processed" food per day was linked with a 62% increased risk of death from any cause, compared with those who ate less than two servings.

While both studies found positive links, they were observational and did not establish causality.

These foods were categorised using the NOVA classification according to degree of processing. These results remained statistically significant after adjustment for several markers of the nutritional quality of the diet (saturated fatty acids, sodium and sugar intakes, dietary fibre, or a healthy dietary pattern derived by principal component analysis) and after a large range of sensitivity analyses.

The study acknowledged that people might choose to eat ultra-processed foods because they tend to be extremely tasty, durable and convenient.

Professor Mark Lawrence, nutrition expert at Deakin University in Australia, said research should look at how ultra-processed foods harm different populations around the world.



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