Ultra-processed foods linked to 32 diseases; should be treated like cigarettes: study

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We hear a lot about processed food these days but the real danger is ultra-processed food, according to a recent study. — Telegraph
We hear a lot about processed food these days but the real danger is ultra-processed food, according to a recent study. — Telegraph

A comprehensive review of research, involving 10 million people and marking the most extensive analysis to date, has revealed alarming connections between diets high in ultra-processed foods (UPFs) and 32 health problems, including cancer, type 2 diabetes, and mental health disorders, The Daily Mail reported. 

Researchers assert that consuming ready meals, sugary cereals, and mass-produced bread may be detrimental to every aspect of the body.

This landmark study found "convincing" evidence that higher consumption of UPFs is associated with a 50% greater risk of dying from a heart attack or stroke. The risks extended to a 40-66% increased likelihood of death from heart disease, obesity, lung conditions, and sleep problems.

Experts draw parallels between UPFs and cigarettes, emphasising the necessity of public policies to curb intake. They advocate for clear labelling of ultra-processed foods and propose restrictions on advertising and sales near schools and hospitals. 

Additionally, they call for governments to adopt dietary guidelines promoting minimally processed foods and make freshly prepared meals more accessible.

The UK, where ultra-processed foods constitute an estimated 57% of the national diet, faces particular concern. With obesity linked to UPFs costing the NHS £6.5 billion annually, urgent policy changes are imperative to safeguard public health. 

Despite study limitations, including inconsistent data collection methods, experts stress the critical need for immediate action to address the health risks associated with the widespread consumption of ultra-processed foods.