Ultra-processed foods linked to 32 health issues including heart disease

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  • 2 months ago

A recent study published in The BMJ on February 28 has found a concerning link between the consumption of ultra-processed foods and a range of health issues. These foods, including sodas, candy, prepackaged meat, and sugary cereals, are found to contribute to an increased risk of 32 health problems, such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, depression, and early death.

The study revealed that in high-income countries like the United States, up to 58% of daily calorie intake comes from ultra-processed foods. This trend is also increasing in middle- and low-income countries. The people who consumed higher amounts of these foods were found to be at a 50% increased risk of cardiovascular disease-related death.

Ultra-processed foods are defined as products made from chemically modified substances extracted from foods, with additives to enhance taste, texture, appearance, and durability. These foods are often high in salt, fat, and sugar, while lacking essential vitamins found in whole foods.

Experts suggest that the high consumption of ultra-processed foods may be due to their affordable prices, convenience, and emotional factors. These foods are often hyperpalatable, making them difficult to resist and leading to cravings. Economic factors, time constraints, and emotional comfort are all cited as reasons why people choose to consume these foods.

The study authors have called for urgent research and public health measures to reduce the consumption of ultra-processed foods for improved population health. Evidence suggests that these foods can disrupt gut health, cause glucose spikes, and contribute to chronic inflammation, all of which have negative impacts on mental health. As the risks associated with consuming ultra-processed foods continue to be uncovered, it is crucial for individuals to be mindful of their dietary choices and prioritize whole, nutrient-dense foods for overall well-being.


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