Mortality Slightly Increased With Consumption of Ultraprocessed Foods

Slight increase seen in all-cause mortality for participants in highest versus lowest quarter of ultraprocessed food consumption
Mortality Slightly Increased With Consumption of Ultraprocessed Foods
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Medically Reviewed By:
Mark Arredondo, M.D.

THURSDAY, May 9, 2024 (HealthDay News) -- Mortality is slightly higher in association with a higher intake of ultraprocessed foods, according to a study published online May 8 in The BMJ.

Zhe Fang, M.B.B.S., from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston, and colleagues conducted a population-based cohort study to examine the association of ultraprocessed food consumption with all-cause mortality and cause-specific mortality. Participants included 74,563 women and 39,501 men without a history of cancer, cardiovascular diseases, or diabetes at baseline.

During a median follow-up of 34 and 31 years, there were 30,188 deaths among women and 18,005 deaths among men, respectively. The researchers found that participants in the highest quarter of ultraprocessed food consumption had higher all-cause mortality and mortality from causes other than cancer or cardiovascular diseases compared with those in the lowest quarter (hazard ratios, 1.04 and 1.09, respectively). Among participants in the lowest and highest quarter, the all-cause mortality rate was 1,472 and 1,536 per 100,000 person years, respectively. There were no associations observed for cancer or cardiovascular mortality. Consistently strong associations with mortality outcomes were seen for meat/poultry/seafood based ready-to-eat products (hazard ratios ranged from 1.06 to 1.43). Associations with higher all-cause mortality were also seen for sugar-sweetened and artificially sweetened beverages, dairy-based desserts, and ultraprocessed breakfast food (hazard ratios, 1.09, 1.07, and 1.04, respectively).

"The findings provide support for limiting consumption of certain types of ultraprocessed food for long-term health," the authors write. "Future studies are warranted to improve the classification of ultraprocessed foods and confirm our findings in other populations."

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