These ultraprocessed foods may shorten your life, study says

A new study has found that a high consumption of ultraprocessed food may lead to a shorter lifespan by more than 10%. This study, which followed over 500,000 individuals for nearly three decades, found that the risk of death increased by 15% for men and 14% for women when adjusted data was considered. The study revealed that highly processed drinks, particularly diet soft drinks, were the main contributors to ultraprocessed food consumption. Refined grains such as ultraprocessed breads and baked goods were also popular.

The NOVA food classification system was used in this study to categorize foods based on their level of processing. Ultraprocessed foods are those containing ingredients that are never or rarely used in kitchens or additives meant to make the food more appealing. Examples include preservatives, emulsifiers, artificial colorings, and additional sugars, salts, and fats.

The study found that people who consumed the most ultraprocessed food were more likely to die from heart disease or diabetes, but there was no increase in cancer-related deaths. Processed meats and soft drinks were identified as carrying more health risks than other ultraprocessed foods. Diet drinks are linked to an increased risk of dying early from cardiovascular disease, dementia, type 2 diabetes, obesity, stroke, and metabolic syndrome. Processed meats have also been linked to various health issues, including bowel and stomach cancers, heart disease, diabetes, and early death from any cause.

The study found that people who consumed more ultraprocessed food were younger and heavier, and had a poorer overall diet quality. However, the increased health risk could not be explained by these differences. It was noted that ultraprocessed food consumption has likely doubled since the study was conducted, and the dietary data was gathered only once some 30 years ago, making it difficult to assess how dietary habits might have changed since then. The study concluded that choosing more minimally processed foods and focusing on a diet rich in whole foods is a way to limit ultraprocessed foods in one’s diet.

.st1{display:none}See more