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Eating ultra-processed food? You may be prone to 32 diseases, claim International medical researchers

Ultra-processed foods damage health and shorten life, said researchers in a linked editorial, calling for public policies and action on such kinds of foods.

Written By : Health Desk Edited By : Kristina Das
New Delhi
Published on: March 01, 2024 11:18 IST
ultra-processed food
Image Source : FREEPIK A study has found that ultra-processed food increases the risk of 32 harmful diseases.

Ultra-processed foods go through several industrial processes and frequently include colours, emulsifiers, flavours, and other additives. Examples of these foods include packaged baked goods and snacks, carbonated drinks, sugary cereals, and ready-to-eat or heat products. These goods also frequently have poor vitamin and fibre contents and high added sugar, fat, and/or salt content.

An international team of researchers from Australia, the US, France and Ireland found convincing evidence that higher ultra-processed food intake was associated with around a 50 per cent increased risk of cardiovascular disease-related death, a 48-53 per cent higher risk of anxiety and common mental disorders, and a 12 per cent greater risk of type 2 diabetes.

Published by The BMJ, the findings are based on an umbrella review (a high-level evidence summary) of 45 distinct pooled meta-analyses from 14 review articles involving almost 10 million participants. None were funded by companies involved in the production of ultra-processed foods.

The team also found evidence that indicates higher ultra-processed food intake was associated with a 21 per cent greater risk of death from any cause, a 40-66 per cent increased risk of heart disease-related death, obesity, type 2 diabetes, and sleep problems, and a 22 per cent increased risk of depression.

"These findings support urgent mechanistic research and public health actions that seek to target and minimise ultra-processed food consumption for improved population health," said Melissa M Lane, associate research fellow at Deakin University, Australia.

"These include front-of-pack labels, restricting advertising and prohibiting sales in or near schools and hospitals, and fiscal and other measures that make unprocessed or minimally processed foods and freshly prepared meals as accessible and available as and cheaper than ultra-processed foods" she added.

(With IANS Inputs)

ALSO READ: Small intestine adjusts size according to nutritional intake: Study published in Nature Communications journal

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