Ultra-processed foods linked to more than 30 health problems, review finds

Ultra-processed foods linked to more than 30 health problems, review finds

Ultra-processed foods (UPFs) have been linked to 32 physical and mental health issues, according to a review.

The review – published in the BMJ – looked at the health risks of UFPs such as sugary cereals, ready meals and fizzy drinks.

The researchers used data collected from 9.9 million people via food questionnaires and dietary history.

Researchers said evidence showed a higher UPF intake was associated with a 50% greater risk of death from cardiovascular disease, a 48 to 53% greater risk of developing anxiety and a 12% greater risk of type 2 diabetes.

The review involved experts from a number of leading institutions, including the University of Sydney, Sorbonne University in France and Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

Higher risk

Writing in the BMJ, the researchers said: ‘Overall, direct associations were found between exposure to ultra-processed foods and 32 health parameters spanning mortality, cancer, and mental, respiratory, cardiovascular, gastrointestinal and metabolic health outcomes.

‘Greater exposure to ultra-processed food was associated with a higher risk of adverse health outcomes, especially cardiometabolic, common mental disorders and mortality outcomes.

‘These findings provide a rationale to develop and evaluate the effectiveness of using population-based and public-health measures to target and reduce dietary exposure to ultra-processed foods for improved human health.’

There was also evidence for links between UPF and asthma, gastrointestinal health, certain cancers and cardiometabolic risk factors. These include high blood fats and low levels of ‘good’ cholesterol.

However, researchers said evidence for these links remain limited.

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