Eating too many ultra-processed foods could increase the risk of early death, reports a new study. The findings of the study are published in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine.
Ultra-processed foods are those obtained by baking, frying, hydrogenation, extruding, and often contain a large number of additives with little or no whole food. Ultra-processed foods also contain high levels of sodium and sugar; and low fiber levels.
"Ultra-processed foods are mostly consumed in the form of snacks, dessert or ready-to-eat meals, and their consumption has largely increased during the past several decades," said the lead author of the study.
A few of the familiar foods and drinks that qualify as ultra-processed are:
- Packaged snacks
- Sodas, sugary drinks
- Cookies, cakes, donuts, pastries
- Microwavable meals
- Sweetened cereal
- Ice cream
- Pre-packaged pizza, pasta, and pies
- Burgers, hot dogs, and sausages
- Instant meals and desserts
Common qualities such as hyper-palatability, attractive packaging, creative marketing, branding, and impressing advertisements often tempt children and adolescents to try these ultra-processed products.
To investigate the negative health outcomes of the consumption of ultra-processed foods, a team of researchers from the University of Paris recruited a total of 44,551 adults. The average age of study participants was 57 years old, and nearly 73 percent were women.
The research team found that ultra-processed foods accounted for more than 14 percent of the weight of the total food and around 29 percent of the total calories consumed by the participants. They also found that people who are younger, living alone, with higher BMI, who receive lower income, have a lower educational level, and have lower physical activity level are more likely to eat ultra-processed foods.
A total of 602 participants died over the study period. The research team observed that for every 10 percent increase in the consumption of ultra-processed food appears to be associated with a 14 percent higher risk of early death.
The findings of the study highlight that eating too many ultra-processed foods can put you at higher risk of premature death. So, make sure to eat more healthy foods and say 'no' to foods that are highly processed to live longer.