Ultraprocessed Foods Increase Risk for Broad Range of Poor Health Outcomes

Findings seen across cardiometabolic, common mental disorder, and mortality outcomes
Ultraprocessed Foods Increase Risk for Broad Range of Poor Health Outcomes
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Medically Reviewed By:
Mark Arredondo, M.D.

THURSDAY, March 7, 2024 (HealthDay News) -- Greater exposure to ultraprocessed food is associated with a higher risk for a range of adverse health outcomes, such as mortality, cancer, and metabolic health, according to a study published online Feb. 28 in The BMJ.

Melissa M. Lane, Ph.D., from Deakin University in Geelong, Australia, and colleagues conducted a systematic umbrella review of meta-analyses to evaluate the existing evidence of associations between exposure to ultraprocessed foods and adverse health outcomes.

Based on 45 unique pooled analyses (approximately 9.89 million participants), the researchers found direct associations between exposure to ultraprocessed foods and 32 health parameters (71 percent) including mortality; cancer; and mental, respiratory, cardiovascular, gastrointestinal, and metabolic health outcomes. Convincing evidence (class I) supported direct associations between greater ultraprocessed food exposure and higher risks for incident cardiovascular disease-related mortality (Grading of Recommendations, Assessment, Development, and Evaluations [GRADE]: very low) and type 2 diabetes (GRADE: moderate). Additionally, higher risks were seen for prevalent anxiety outcomes and combined common mental disorder outcomes (low). Highly suggestive (class II) evidence showed that greater exposure to ultraprocessed foods was directly associated with higher risks for incident all-cause mortality (low), heart disease-related mortality (low), type 2 diabetes (very low), and depressive outcomes (low), as well as prevalent adverse sleep-related outcomes (low), wheezing (low), and obesity (low).

"These findings provide a rationale to develop and evaluate the effectiveness of using population based and public health measures to target and reduce dietary exposure to ultraprocessed foods for improved human health," the authors write.

Several authors reported ties to relevant organizations.

Abstract/Full Text


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