"The groundwork of all happiness is health." - Leigh Hunt

Ultra-processed foods are linked to health problems and early death

February 29, 2024 – People who eat highly processed foods are at higher risk of developing dozens of health problems and even dying early, a brand new review of studies involving tens of millions of participants says.

Highly processed foods include packaged snacks, carbonated soft drinks, quick noodles and prepared meals. “These products are industrial formulations consisting primarily of chemically modified substances extracted from foods, as well as additives to improve taste, texture, appearance and shelf life, while containing minimal or no whole foods,” noted the authors of the study stated.

The review included 45 studies involving nearly 10 million people. Researchers examined the results of consuming or drinking highly processed foods on mortality, cancer, and mental, respiratory, cardiovascular, gastrointestinal and metabolic health.

“This review found consistent evidence of a higher risk of adverse health outcomes associated with higher exposure to highly processed foods,” the authors wrote The BMJ.

According to the research study, there have been direct links between higher intake of highly processed foods and a better risk of dying early, dying from heart disease, developing common mental disorders, being chubby or obese, and kind 2 diabetes.

Ultra-processed foods have also been linked to a better risk of asthma, gastrointestinal problems, some cancers and more.

“Greater exposure to highly processed foods, whether measured as higher or lower consumption, additional servings per day, or a 10% increase, was consistently associated with a higher risk of adverse health outcomes (71% of outcomes),” the research said .

Researchers told CNN They found “consistent evidence linking higher intake” of such foods to greater than 70% of the 45 health outcomes assessed.

“For example, strong evidence shows that higher intake of highly processed foods was associated with an approximately 50% higher risk of deaths related to cardiovascular disease and common mental disorders,” said lead creator Melissa Lane, a postdoctoral fellow on the Food & Mood Center from Deakin University in Geelong, Australia.

The study found evidence that prime intake of highly processed foods could increase anxiety by 53% and the danger of early death from any cause by 20%.