Fresh evidence of links between ultra-processed food and health risks revealed

Henrietta Brewer
June 2, 2019

While the studies did not prove that ultra-processed foods cause health problems, they found strong links between a diet high in processed foods and health issues.

Ultra-processed foods have been under a health microscope for a while-especially after a recent study linked eating them to an increased risk of cancer and cardiovascular disease.

In the second study - of almost 20,000 Spanish adults - ultra-processed foods were linked to a shorter life span: Those with the highest intake were 62% more likely to die over two decades, compared to those with the lowest intake.

There's also "ultra-processed foods" which have undergone substantial industrial processing and often have long ingredient lists including preservatives, sweeteners or colour enhancers.

"Absolute incidence rates for CVD in the whole population were 253 per 100000 person years: age and sex corrected absolute rates were 242 per 100000 person years in the first quarter (low consumers) of the proportion of ultra-processed food intake in the diet, 254 in the second quarter, 252 in the third quarter, and 277 in the fourth quarter (high consumers); with respective rates for coronary heart disease of 109, 116, 125, and 124 per 100000 person years, and for cerebrovascular diseases of 144, 148, 143, and 163 per 100000 person years", the study authors reported.

This view is supported by Australian researchers in a linked editorial, who say the dietary advice is relatively straightforward: eat less ultra-processed food and more unprocessed or minimally processed food.

Instead, there might be other things about highly processed foods that take a health toll, according to researchers Bernard Srour and Mathilde Touvier, from the University of Paris. Kuhnle was not implicated in these studies; however, the said that NOVA classification is not quite "specific nor useful to inform public health" because some of their food classifications seem to be not entirely accurate.

Then what else could be going on?

Other scientists saw the importance of the two studies, such as Mark Lawrence and Phillip Baker, both from Deakin University in Australia.

Foods were grouped according to degree of processing and rates of disease were measured over a maximum follow-up of 10 years (2009-2018). "We need to go back to more basic diets".

The American Heart Association has more on processed foods.

But, while the consumption of these semi-processed and ultra-processed foods have become commonplace in our fast-paced society, only a few get to give thought to the possible health detriments that might result therefrom.

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