HomeFood & BeverageUltra-processed foods increase the risk of premature death: the results of a...

Ultra-processed foods increase the risk of premature death: the results of a mega-study conducted at Harvard

The study lasted thirty years correlation between diets high in ultra-processed foods – like sugary drinks or a lot of packaged foods, especially meat-based ones – and risk of premature death.

The study, conducted by a group of researchers fromat Harvard University’s TH Chan School of Public Health and published on British Medical Journal, analyzed the dietary records of 74,563 women and 39,501 men (all with a medical history, no history of cancer, cardiovascular disease, or diabetes). A sample of over one hundred thousand cases were classified into four different groups based on their dietary records (unprocessed, minimally processed, processed and ultra-processed foods) to find out if there was a link between their daily diet and the risk of preterm birth. death. Participants reported back to the researchers periodic updates on their lifestyle habits and health status through questionnaires completed every two years. The follow-up time taken into account was from the date of return of the first questionnaire to the date of death (notified by descendants) or the end of the study period (which lasted thirty years).

The results of the study

A total of 48,193 deaths (8,005 men and 30,188 women) were documented during the period under review: 13,557 were related to cancer, 11,416 were due to cardiovascular disease, 3,926 deaths were due to respiratory causes, and 6,343 were with neurodegenerative causes.

The picture that appears is that of an increase – albeit slight – in risk for those with a diet rich in ultra-processed foods. The sample was cataloged in the group of those who declared a diet with ultra-processed products 4% increase in risk of death over thirty years of follow-up. Examining the causes of death in more detail, the researchers found that consumption of ultra-processed foods was associated with 8% increased risk of brain diseases such as dementia.

Opposite, better quality of daily diet is associated with reduced mortalityespecially in non-smokers and those who consume less alcohol.

What are ultra-processed foods?

The study’s lead author, Dr. Mingyang Song, associate professor of clinical epidemiology and nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health, wanted to explain that not all processed foods are created equal. For example, highly processed whole grains do not pose the same risks as processed meatsfrom breakfast products and gods artificially sweetened foods or drinkswhich are the foods that, according to the study, pose the greatest risk.

In particular, those users who consistently reported the highest percentage of increased risk were recorded meat consumption, domestic birds And Seafood. Therefore, these are the foods, together to ready-to-eat products this is at many other packaged foods – often more prevalent in everyday life than one might imagine – to be indicted by this study.

These types of products, as Harvard University explained in a study last year, “It makes up almost 60% of the foods in the typical American diet”and an ever-increasing component—often linked to cultural and socioeconomic factors—of the diets of Europeans, including Italians. “Ultra-processed foods, typically of low nutritional quality and high energy density, dominate the food supply of high-income countries and their consumption is increasing significantly in middle-income countries,” the study explains in its introduction. “In addition to being of poor nutritional quality, highly processed foods can contain harmful substances such as additives and contaminants formed during processing.”

Source: VanityFair

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