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Ultra-Processed Food Linked to 32 Harmful Effects on Health


Ultra-processed food is directly linked to 32 harmful effects on health, including a higher risk of heart disease, cancer, type 2 diabetes, adverse mental health, and early death, according to the world’s largest review of its kind.

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Published in the British Medical Journal, this latest review looking at ultra-processed foods involved nearly 10 million people. Highlighting the rise in global consumption of these foods and their detrimental effects, the findings align with numerous previous studies linking them to adverse health outcomes.

The category of ultra-processed foods includes items such as packaged snacks, fizzy drinks, and ready meals. High in artificial additives, sugar, fat, and salt but low in essential micronutrients, in people who are younger, poorer, or from disadvantaged areas such foods can account for as much as 80 percent of the daily diet.

The new review emphasizes the need for measures to reduce ultra-processed food consumption. In a linked editorial, academics propose implementing an approach similar to that used to regulate tobacco. Additionally, a further recent study published in The Lancet Public Health journal suggests that mandating calorie labeling in food outlets could prevent thousands of heart disease-related deaths in England over the next two decades. Whether or not such strategies are pursued will largely depend on the ability of the powerful multinational food industry to resist them.

To learn more about the dangers of ultra-processed foods, see this article on our website.