Ultra-processed food may provide convenience, but it comes with more adverse effects on health than advantages. It is essential for people to think twice before consuming them every day. In a recent study published in JAMA Internal Medicine, there is an increased likelihood of early death among people who consume higher amounts of ultra-processed food.
More Adults Consume Ultra-Processed Food
Recently, the consumption of processed foods has increased drastically such that more than 29% of the total calories consumed by an average individual comes from ultra-processed food. This comes in the form of snacks, ready-to-eat meals, and desserts. The consumption of processed foods is linked to higher BMIs especially among the younger generation – the largest consumers of processed foods.
While the number of people who consume processed food is high, many consumers are becoming more health-conscious. Studies show that 91% of consumers in the United States opt to buy food and beverages that are made from ingredients that they can easily recognize. But while this is the recent trend in the consumer market, this does not mean that people avoid ultra-processed food altogether. Because of the fast-paced lives that most people live, they are easily tempted to reach for a packaged meal instead of cooking from scratch because they are pressed for time.
The study involved interviewing 44,551 French adults 45 years old and above for two years. The participants were asked to keep 24-hour dietary records for six months as well as complete questionnaires about their health. It is essential to take note that this study is the first to directly associate the consumption of ultra-processed food with early death thus it is difficult to conclude the study considering that the category of ultra-processed foods is extensive.
The Revolution Against Ultra-Processed Foods
Although this may be the case, the results from the study are aligned with what different regulatory bodies are implying about processed foods. For instance, many countries in Latin or South America noted that the consumption of highly processed foods could be dangerous to health. As a result, they enforced manufacturers to display warnings on their labels. This is especially true among food products that contain high amounts of salt, sugar, fat, and calories. Chile specifically banned TV stations from advertising unhealthy food products, especially to children while changes in the Nutrition Facts labels are ongoing by the Food and Drug Administration.
The study noted that many consumers are becoming more self-aware of their health, so food manufacturing companies should take note and make the necessary changes with their products. They should not only focus on people who are 45 years old and above but also for many young people. In a separate study conducted by the Amplify Snack Brands, 89% of the millennials say that they opt for snacks that taste good first before looking at their health benefits. The challenge here is for food companies to be able to create foods that are not only delicious but also healthy and made from natural ingredients.
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