This trend could cause an increase in premature deaths due to chronic diseases, including cancer and cardiovascular disease.
To understand the relationship between ultraprocessed foods and the risk of anticipated early death, the researchers enlisted the help of 44,551 French adults over the age of 45 for two years. Their average age was 57 and almost 73% of the participants were women. All provided 24-hour food registers every six months as well as complete health questionnaires (including body mass index and other measurements), physical and sociodemographic activities.
Researchers calculated the total dietary intake and consumption of each participant of ultra-high-level foods.
They found ultra-processed foods that account for over 14% of the total food consumed and around 29% of total calories. Ultraprocessed food consumption was associated with the younger age, lower income, lower education, life only, higher BMI and lower physical activity level.
During the study period, 602 participants died. After adjusting for factors such as smoking, researchers calculated an associated risk of 14% higher than early death for each 10% increase in proportion of consumed ultraprocessed foods.
Further studies are needed to confirm these results, the authors say. However, they hypothesize that additives, packaging (chemicals contained in food during storage) and processing itself, including high-temperature processing, may be factors that negatively impact health.
Read the package from front to back
"The conclusions make sense, given what we know to date about the deleterious effects of food additives on brain function and health, but the effects observed are very small," wrote Molly Bray, president of the Department of Nutritional Sciences at the # 39; University of Texas at Austin, in an email. It was not involved in the research.
Nurgul Fitzgerald, an associate professor at the Rutgers Department of Nutritional Sciences, The State University of New Jersey, offered "congratulations to the authors" for a "strong" design study.
However, "ultraprocessed" is a huge category of foods, and by gathering so many things together, the researchers have lost sensitivity in their results and can not pinpoint exactly what is causing the effect observed in the study, he said Fitzgerald, who was not involved in the research.
"Some factors may be more harmful or less harmful than others: it's really too complex," he said, adding that we can not "run" with these results.
Why do people eat more than these processed foods?
"We live in a fast world and people are looking for cost-effective solutions, we are always tense for the time," said Fitzgerald. "People are looking for quick solutions, a quick meal".
When selecting food, taste is the number 1 factor for most consumers, he said, but price and convenience are also important and, with ultraprocessed foods, that convenience factor is "probably at the top of the list: take and go, ready to eat. "
Fitzgerald recommends that people not only look at the front of a package when they buy ready meals, but also at the back.
"Look at the list of ingredients, do you understand all the ingredients that come into your food?" she asked. Buy only those products "with the fewest ingredients and ingredients you understand".