What We Know About Ultra-Processed Foods and Mortality Risk

  • 2 Min To Read
  • 11 days ago

A recent study published in The BMJ found that consuming ultra-processed foods may be linked to a slightly higher risk of mortality. Ultra-processed foods include items such as instant noodles, ready-made meals, and packaged snacks like chips or cookies that have been processed industrially. These foods are known to have high amounts of salt, fat, and sugar, and low amounts of essential vitamins and fiber.

The study, which examined data from over 30 years, found that those who consumed the highest amount of ultra-processed foods had a 4% higher risk of death from any cause and a 9% higher risk of death from causes other than cancer or cardiovascular disease. This includes an 8% higher risk of death related to neurodegenerative diseases.

While the study did not indicate causality, only association, researchers suggest limiting the consumption of certain types of ultra-processed foods for long-term health. However, they do not recommend a complete elimination of these foods from one's diet.

Experts point out that while some ultra-processed foods, such as dark chocolate, may offer protection against certain diseases, most processed foods can lead to higher mortality rates. Processed meats, for example, have been linked to an increased risk of bowel cancer.

Overall, maintaining a balanced diet that focuses on preventing obesity, heart disease, diabetes, and bowel cancer is key to promoting overall health and wellness. While the mortality effect of a diet high in ultra-processed foods is modest, avoiding sugary and poorly nutritious foods, especially in children, is important in preventing adverse health outcomes. Ultimately, the emphasis should be on following a prudent diet that includes a variety of foods and limits the consumption of heavily processed items.


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