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Ultra-processed food linked to early death

By ITS Education Asia


From the ChalkFace has been publishing a series of articles on children’s health and diets. This recent BBC article is once again pointing out the link between ultra-processed food and health problems.

"Processed foods" have been altered to make them last longer or taste better — generally using salt, oil, sugar or fermentation. Then come "ultra-processed foods," which have been through more substantial industrial processing and often have long ingredient lists on the packet, including added preservatives, sweeteners or colour enhancers.

Examples of ultra-processed food include:

  • processed meat such as sausages and hamburgers
  • breakfast cereals or cereal bars
  • instant soups
  • sugary fizzy drinks
  • chicken nuggets
  • cake
  • chocolate
  • ice cream
  • mass-produced bread
  • many "ready to heat" meals such as pies and pizza
  • meal-replacement shakes

Two recent studies have very sobering findings about consumption of these foods. The first study, by the University of Navarra in Spain, followed 19,899 people for a decade and assessed their diet every other year. It found that for every 10 deaths among those eating the least ultra-processed food, there were 16 deaths among those eating the most (more than four portions a day).

The second study, by the University of Paris, followed 105,159 people for five years and assessed their diet twice a year.  It showed those eating more ultra-processed food had worse heart health.

The message here is try to get your children eating a healthy diet and keep consumption of these dangerous foods to a minimum.


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