This is the largest study in history on ultra-processed foods: they discover more than 30 harmful effects

The research involved 10 million people and for the first time accurately measured the effects of ultra-processed foods.

Addiction to ultra-processed foods (UPF) has become a public health problem and a growing concern in contemporary society. These products, characterized by their high content of saturated fats, added sugars and additives, have flooded supermarket shelves. and fast food menus, generating an addiction that goes beyond a simple preference for its flavor.

This in turn has triggered levels of obesity, which go hand in hand with high consumption of ultra-processed foods. Chile is one of the countries most affected by this health crisis in Latin America and has the highest rates of obesity. According to data from World Health Organization (WHO) 28% of adults and 14% of adolescents in Chile were living with obesity in 2016, and these figures are estimated to increase to 36% and 17% respectively by 2030.

However, new research has revealed that obesity is just one of many problems caused by FPU. In fact, consistent evidence shows that Ultra-processed foods are linked to 32 adverse health outcomes, including cancer, serious heart and lung disease, mental health disorders and premature death.

Ultra-processed foods cause more than 30 harmful health effects

UPFs are defined in the report as industrially manufactured products comprising deconstructed and modified food components recombined with a variety of additives. In general, UPFs include packaged baked goods and snacks, soft drinks, sugary cereals, and ready-to-eat or reheat products, which undergo multiple industrial processes.

According to the WHO, Chile is the seventh country that consumes the most ultra-processed foods in the world . Most people consume these foods without realizing it, as many are even marketed as healthy options, like protein bars or breakfast cereals.

UPF can represent up to 58% of total daily energy intake in some countries. high-income countries.

Ultra-processed foods cause more than 30 harmful health effects, study finds

In recent years, several studies have linked ultra-processed foods to harmful health effects, such as weight gain, cognitive impairment, cancer, diabetes, among others. But no comprehensive study has yet provided a comprehensive assessment of the evidence in this area.

That’s why the researchers conducted an overview (a high-level summary of the evidence) of 45 different pooled meta-analyses of 14 journal articles linking ultra-processed foods to adverse health effects.

All articles were published over the past three years and involved almost 10 million participants. None were funded by companies manufacturing ultra-processed foods to avoid conflicts of interest.

The authors concluded: “Overall, direct associations were found between exposure to ultra-processed foods and 32 health parameters covering mortality, cancer, and mental, respiratory, cardiovascular, gastrointestinal health outcomes. -intestinal and metabolic. »

To find out, researchers estimated UPF exposure from a combination of food frequency questionnaires, 24-hour dietary recalls, and dietary histories, and measured as higher consumption than ‘lower consumption, additional servings per day or a 10-fold increase. . Researchers rated the evidence as compelling, highly suggestive, suggestive, weak, or nonexistent. They also rated the quality of evidence as high, moderate, low or very low.

Among their findings, compelling evidence showed that higher consumption of ultra-processed foods was associated with an approximately 50% higher risk of death from cardiovascular disease, a 48% to 53% higher risk of common anxiety and mental disorders, and a 12% higher risk of type 2 diabetes.

Furthermore, highly suggestive evidence indicated that higher intake of UPF was associated with a 21% higher risk of death from any cause, a 40–66% higher risk of death from diseases heart disease, obesity, type 2 diabetes and health problems. sleep and a 22% higher risk of depression.

“These findings support urgent mechanistic research and public health actions that seek to address and minimize the consumption of ultra-processed foods to improve population health.” » underline the authors.

Regarding the associations between exposure to ultra-processed foods and asthma, gastrointestinal health, certain cancers, and cardiometabolic risk factors, such as high levels of fats in the blood and low levels of “good” cholesterol, the evidence remains limited.

However, they added that “increased exposure to ultra-processed foods was associated with an increased risk of health problems, particularly cardiometabolic disorders, common mental disorders, and mortality.”

Ultra-processed foods cause more than 30 harmful health effects, study finds

Although it is widely accepted that UPFs are harmful to health, profitability deters manufacturers from switching to nutritious foods. Public policy and measures in favor of ultra-processed foods are therefore essential.

These include the front-of-package labels, advertising restrictions and bans on sales in or near schools and hospitals, and tax measures and others that make unprocessed or minimally processed foods and freshly prepared meals as accessible and available as less expensive ultra-processed foods.

Previously, a study by the British Medical Journal had already highlighted the importance of implementing a law on nutritional labeling, highlighting Chile’s initiative and calling it a “courageous step.”

“Now is the time for UN agencies, together with their Member States, to develop and implement a framework convention on ultra-processed foods similar to that on tobacco, and to promote examples of best practice , write the researchers,” write the researchers. release of the current study.

If you don’t know how to identify UPF, at Qué Pasa we explain 9 ways to identify dangerous ultra-processed foods in this link.

Source: Latercera

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