Ultraprocessed food, which dominates the diet of many American adults, maybe the ticket to early death, according to a massive new study.
Researchers monitored the diet and health of over 44,000 adults from age 45 and older. They found that those who consumed ultraprocessed food are at a higher risk of obesity, high blood pressure, and cancer.
The findings were published in the JAMA Internal Medicine.
Ultraprocessed Food Consumption And Early Death
The researchers characterize ultraprocessed food as those that are "manufactured industrially from multiple ingredients that usually include additives used for technological and/or cosmetic purposes." These types of food, the researchers reveal, are sold as ready-to-eat snacks, desserts, and ready-to-heat meals that have increasingly become popular in the past few decades.
To investigate the negative health consequences of the consumption of ultraprocessed food, the researchers recruited a total of 44,551 French adults who kept a 24-hour dietary record and completed questionnaires about their health. The average age of participants was 57 years old, and nearly 73 percent were women.
The researchers found that ultraprocessed food accounted for more than 14 percent of the weight of the total food and about 29 percent of total calories consumed by the participants. The researchers also found that people who are younger, living alone, with higher BMI, who receive lower income, have lower educational level, and have lower physical activity level are more inclined to eat ultraprocessed food.
During the study, 602 deaths were reported, of which 219 were from cancer while 34 were from cardiovascular disease.
After adjusting other factors such as smoking, the researchers came into the conclusion that ultraprocessed food associated with a 14 percent higher risk of early death for every 10 percent increase in the proportion consumed.
Ultraprocessed Food Is Not Healthy
"The case against highly processed foods is mounting up, with this study adding importantly to a growing body of evidence on the health harms of ultra-processed foods," stated Nita Forouhi of the University of Cambridge.
Forouhi noticed that the study also demonstrates social inequality. Those who consume ultraprocessed food the most are also the individuals who have lower income or education levels.
The reason these types of food appeal to those with lower income or educational levels, according to Forouhi, is because ultraprocessed meals are cheaper, have high sugar or salt content, widely available, highly marketed, ready to eat, and have a long shelf life.