Processed foods typically contain lots of additives, especially sodium (salt) and sugars. Of course, to a certain extent, that’s why they are so tasty. But the more over-processed foods are definitely not so healthy for you. Two recent studies drive that home. The first shows that the more processed food you consume, the greater your chances of early death due to heart disease, cancer, and other causes. The second (small-scale, but a randomized controlled trial) showed that eating highly processed foods tends to lead one to consume more calories.
Below we present two groups of media articles and links for these two studies. Then at the end of this post, we present a group of articles discussing what are and are not highly processed foods.
Over-/Ultra-processed food consumption can lead to early death.
The study relating ultra-processed food consumption to early death involved 44,551 French adults age 45 and older, for two years, with average age 57; almost 73% of the participants were women. Each subject provided 24-hour dietary records every six months, and also completed questionnaires about their health, physical activities and sociodemographics. Using these records, the researchers calculated each participant’s overall dietary intake and consumption of ultraprocessed foods, finding that ultraprocessed foods accounted for more than 14% of the weight of total food consumed and about 29% of total calories. For every 10% increase in the proportion of ultraprocessed foods in a subject’s diet, the risk for all-causes death increased by 14%.
Here are links to media articles about the study:
Avoiding ‘ultraprocessed’ foods may increase lifespan, study says
Consuming Ultraprocessed Food Tied to Higher Mortality
Study: ‘Ultraprocessed’ Foods Are Accelerating Your Risk Of Early Death
New French study explores risks of ultra-processed food
Here are links to the research article abstract:
Association Between Ultraprocessed Food Consumption and Risk of Mortality Among Middle-aged Adults in France
Association Between Ultraprocessed Food Consumption and Risk of Mortality Among Middle-aged Adults in France.
Ultra-processed food diets bulk you up.
Twenty experimental subjects stayed at an NIH center and had meals provided to them. For 14 days they had highly ultra-processed meals, and for 14 days they ate minimally processed foods. The basic meals contained the same amount of sugars, fiber, fat and carbohydrates, but the participants were allowed to eat as much as they liked, by taking extra or fewer helpings. The participants all exercised about the same amount each day throughout the study.
When on the ultra-processed diet, people ate faster, yet consumed about 500 calories more per day (by taking extra helpings) than they did while on the unprocessed diet; this increase in calories was due to higher quantities of carbohydrates and fat but not protein. Consequently, when on the ultra-processed diet, participants gained weight — on average, about 2 pounds. While on the diet of unprocessed foods, they lost an equal amount of weight. The study authors concluded that the ultraprocessed foods caused people to eat too many calories and gain weight.
Here are links to media articles about this study:
Overprocessed foods add 500 calories to your diet every day, causing weight gain
Processed foods lead to weight gain, but it’s about more than calories
New study says processed foods make us crave more calories
Processed food leads people to eat more and put on weight, study finds
First-of-its-kind trial finds processed food causes overeating, but researchers not sure why
Here is the research article:
Ultra-Processed Diets Cause Excess Calorie Intake and Weight Gain: An Inpatient Randomized Controlled Trial of Ad Libitum Food Intake
What are ultra-processed foods?
Here are a number of media articles and articles from health-related organizations, all discussing what should count as “ultra-processed” foods, and how to diminish their proportion in one’s diet:
Eating processed foods
Can Processed Foods Be Part of a Healthy Diet
‘Detox’ from overly processed foods: Why and how to cut back
What is ultra-processed food and how can you eat less of it?
Processed Foods: 5 Reasons to Avoid Them
Not all processed foods are unhealthy
All links have been added to Health > Diet.