Regularly consuming ‘ultra-processed’ foods increases risk of early death

Study links heavily processed foods to risk of earlier death

The authors speculate that the additives, the packaging (chemicals leech into the food during storage) and the processing itself, including high-temperature processing, may be the factors that negatively affect health. The category includes ready-to-eat or -heat meals, snacks and desserts such as instant noodles, packaged soups, hot dogs, fish fingers, chicken nuggets, soft drinks, chips, candy, sugary breakfast cereals and much, much more. According to a French study, we face a 14 percent higher risk of early death with each 10 percent increase in the amount of ultra-processed food we take in. But the researchers hypothesized that these foods could contribute to a shorter life span in a number of ways - for example, by increasing a person's risk of heart disease, cancer and other diseases.

High in salt, saturated fat and sugar, ultra-processed foods go through multiple industrial manipulations before they reach our mouths, including extrusion, hydrogenation and hydrolysis. The research, published in the journal Jama Internal Medicine, found that deaths were more likely to occur in those who ate more ultra-processed food.

Processes such as extrusion, hydrogenation and hydrolysis were devised to make food less perishable and more appetizing.

Ultra-processed foods - which are largely consumed by young people with low levels of income and education - made up 14 percent of the food weight consumed and about 29 percent of total calories of the participants.

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"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", she told The Guardian.

Some scientists argued that the study's categorization of ultraprocessed foods was too wide and therefore not strong enough to come to a confident conclusion, according to The Guardian.

"This is a large, carefully conducted prospective study of healthy middle-aged and older French people, in which a statistically significant association between death from any cause and a relatively higher consumption of "ultra-processed foods" has been identified", said Dr Ian Johnson, nutrition researcher and Emeritus Fellow at the Quadram Institute Bioscience. For every 10 per cent increase, their chances of dying in the period of investigation...

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