Ultra-processed foods linked to increased death risk in middle-aged adults

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Scientists from France have discovered a link between the consumption of ultra-processed foods and an increased risk of death among middle-aged adults.

Ultra-processed foods are food and drink products that have undergone extensive processing by large food corporations.

They often contain additives, sweeteners, and other ingredients designed to imitate the qualities of minimally processed foods.

Characteristics of Ultra-Processed Foods

Ultra-processed foods encompass a wide range of products, including candies, packaged bread, sweetened yogurt, breakfast cereals, packaged snacks, energy drinks, instant soups, and processed meats, among others.

These foods tend to be high in calories, sugar, and fat, while being lower in protein and fiber.

They have been associated with obesity and an increased risk of noncommunicable diseases, such as heart disease, diabetes, and certain cancers.

Previous Research and Knowledge Gap

Previous research has shown that ultra-processed foods are less satiating and lead to higher blood sugar levels compared to minimally processed foods.

However, until now, the association between consuming ultra-processed foods and the risk of death had not been investigated.

Study Design and Participants

To address this research gap, the scientists examined data from 44,551 French adults aged 45 years or older.

These participants were part of the French NutriNet-Santé Study, an ongoing cohort study that began in 2009.

The researchers conducted a follow-up until 2017, with participants providing web-based dietary records during the first two years of follow-up.

Findings and Implications

The study found that individuals who consumed a higher proportion of ultra-processed foods had a greater risk of death.

The consumption of these foods was associated with younger age, lower income, lower educational level, higher body mass index, and lower physical activity levels.

The researchers suggest that an increase in the consumption of ultra-processed foods is linked to an overall higher risk of death among middle-aged individuals.

Conclusion and Research Impact

Based on these findings, the study highlights the potential risks associated with a high intake of ultra-processed foods.

While previous research has already indicated their negative effects on health, this study provides new evidence regarding the association between ultra-processed food consumption and death risk.

Further research is needed to explore the underlying mechanisms and to assess the impact of reducing the consumption of ultra-processed foods on health outcomes.

Please note that the information provided in this summary is based on the study conducted by Laure Schnabel et al. and published in JAMA Internal Medicine.

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