Sugary soda and processed meats are just a few ultraprocessed foods that may shorten your life

A recent unpublished study presented at the American Society for Nutrition’s annual meeting in Chicago suggests that a higher consumption of ultraprocessed foods (UPFs) may significantly reduce lifespans. The study, led by Erikka Loftfield, an investigator at the National Cancer Institute, analyzed dietary data from nearly 541,000 participants aged 50 to 71 in the US National Institutes of Health-AARP Diet and Health Study conducted in 1995. After adjusting the data, the study found that the increased risk of death due to UPF consumption was 15% for men and 14% for women.

The study found a correlation between increased UPF consumption and a higher risk of dying from heart disease or diabetes, but there was no increased risk of cancer-related deaths. Loftfield explained to CNN that highly processed meat and soft drinks were among the UPF subgroups most strongly associated with mortality risk. Diet soda, containing artificial sweeteners like aspartame, acesulfame potassium, high fructose corn syrup, and other additives, has been associated with cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, obesity, stroke, and disruptions to gut health. Processed meats, including bacon, hot dogs, sausages, ham, jerky, and deli meats, are linked to an increased risk of stomach cancers, heart disease, diabetes, and early mortality.

Interestingly, the study found that younger and more obese individuals consumed the most UPFs and had a poorer quality of diet overall. However, the study has limitations, as the dietary data used was gathered only once more than 20 years ago. Loftfield stated that the intake of UPFs is likely to have increased over the years, potentially underestimating their impact in this study.

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