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A study published on Monday in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) based on research conducted in France found that an increase in the consumption of ultra-processed foods appears to result in overall higher mortality risk in adults. According to CNN, adults face a 14% higher risk of early death for each 10% increase in the amount of ultra-processed foods consumed. What counts as an ultra-processed food? These are defined in the study as “foods that are manufactured industrially from multiple ingredients that usually include additives used for technological and/or cosmetic purposes.”
Adults in the U.S., Canada, and the U.K. all consume around 60% of their diet as ultra-processed food.
The study found that ultra-processed food consumption was associated with younger age, lower income, lower educational level, living alone, higher BMI and lower physical activity level.
The research also affirms that eating ultra-processed foods can lead to obesity, high blood pressure, and cancer.
Ultra-processed foods, according to the study, accounts for more than 14% of the weight of total food consumed and about 29% of total calories.
The study found only a correlation between these foods and higher mortality rates — it does not prove that ultra-processed food consumption causes premature death. But the researchers argued that such foods could shorten a person’s life span by increasing the risk of heart disease, cancer, and other diseases.
Why This Matters: The precise impact of each of the chemical additives and preservatives in our food is not studied nearly enough. But we already knew that pre-packaged foods and their chemical preservatives are not good for us – no big surprise here. This study is significant because it quantifies the risks of consuming so much pre-packaged food — and the risk is significant. Think twice before taking a bite of or putting these items in your kids’ lunch: packaged snacks; ice cream; candies; energy bars; processed meats; ready-made meals; and packaged cookies, cakes, and pastries. This is exposure to potentially dangerous chemicals that we can control by choosing wisely what we eat. Bottom line — eat healthy, and you will live longer.
What You Can Do: The authors recommend that consumers buy only those products “with the least number of ingredients and with ingredients you understand.”
To Go Deeper: Watch the video below about additives that are common in the U.S. and banned in other countries.
Just a couple of weeks ago we wrote about a study that revealed that a child born today will experience a world that is more than 4˚C warmer by the time they turn 71 years old, which will threaten their health at every stage of their life. Now, a new study shows that climate change […]
Why This Matters: No one wants to have Thanksgiving ruined by foodborne illnesses that are preventable if you get the warning. So watch closely for any warnings and food recall notices that the government puts out.
Yesterday, in a tour-de-force of star power, the actor and activist Mark Ruffalo crisscrossed Washington. D.C. — from a Washington Post Live event, to a Capitol Hill press conference, to testifying at a House hearing answering questions from Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez, to a screening of his new film “Dark Waters” at the Motion Picture Association –– all to make the point that it is high time for the government to act to keep the public safe from a little-known but ubiquitous toxin called PFAS (also known as “Forever Chemicals” because they never break down) that can now be found in the bloodstream of 99% of all Americans