Published: Thu, February 14, 2019
Medical | By

Eating ready meals and chocolate snacks linked to deadly diseases

Eating ready meals and chocolate snacks linked to deadly diseases

According to the study, ultraprocessed foods are those that "contain multiple ingredients and are manufactured through a multitude of industrial processes". Yet, these foods - which are high in salt, sugar and other additives - are an increasingly large part of people's diets.

A French study has found a link between high intakes of ultra-processed foods and higher death rates including from cancer, diabetes and heart disease.

To understand the relationship between ultra-processed foods and the risk of an earlier-than-expected death, the researchers enlisted the help of 44,551 French adults for two years.

"Ultraprocessed foods are mostly consumed in the form of snacks, desserts, or ready-to-eat or -heat meals", and their consumption "has largely increased during the past several decades", the authors wrote.

Over seven years of follow-up, there were 602 deaths, of which 219 were from cancer and 34 from cardiovascular disease.


Ultraprocessed foods accounted for more than 14 percent of the weight of total food consumed by the participants, and about 29 percent of their total calories.

"A vital takeaway message is that consumption of highly processed foods reflects social inequalities - they are consumed disproportionately more by individuals with lower incomes or education levels, or those living alone", Forouhi said.

"Such foods are attractive because they tend to be cheaper, are highly palatable due to high sugar, salt, and saturated fat content, are widely available, highly marketed, ready to eat, and their use-by dates are lengthy, so they last longer", Nita Forouhi of the MRC Epidemiology Unit at the University of Cambridge told The Guardian. "Further prospective studies are needed to confirm these findings and to disentangle the various mechanisms by which ultraprocessed foods may affect health". "More needs to be done to address these inequalities".

Some scientists argued that the study's categorization of ultraprocessed foods was too wide and therefore not strong enough to come to a confident conclusion, according to The Guardian. In Canada, almost half of an adult's daily diet is comprised of ultra-processed food, according to 2017 research by Heart & Stroke. For every 10 per cent increase, their chances of dying in the period of investigation...

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