From Science Daily:
Two large European studies find positive associations between consumption of highly processed (‘ultra-processed’) foods and risk of cardiovascular disease and death. Policies that limit ultra-processed food intake are urgently needed, say researchers.
Ultra-processed foods include packaged baked goods and snacks, fizzy drinks, sugary cereals, ready meals containing food additives, dehydrated vegetable soups, and reconstituted meat and fish products — often containing high levels of added sugar, fat, and/or salt, but lacking in vitamins and fibre. They are thought to account for around 25-60% of daily energy intake in many countries.
Previous studies have linked ultra-processed foods to higher risks of obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and some cancers, but firm evidence is still scarce.
In the first study, researchers based in France and Brazil assessed potential associations between ultra-processed foods and risk of cardiovascular and cerebrovascular disease (conditions affecting blood supply to the heart and brain). Their findings are based on 105,159 French adults.
Results showed that an absolute 10% increase in the proportion 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).
In contrast, the researchers found a significant association between unprocessed or minimally processed foods and lower risks of all reported diseases.
In the second study, researchers based in Spain evaluated possible associations between ultra-processed food intake and risk of death from any cause (“all cause mortality”) based on 19,899 Spanish adults.
Results showed that higher consumption of ultra-processed foods (more than 4 servings per day) was associated with a 62% increased risk of all cause mortality compared with lower consumption (less than 2 servings per day). For each additional daily serving of ultra-processed food, mortality risk relatively increased by 18% (a dose-response effect).
As such, both research teams say policies that limit the proportion of ultra-processed foods in the diet and promote consumption of unprocessed or minimally processed foods are needed to improve global public health.
Read the full article at Science Daily: