processed food industry

Premature death associated with consumption of ultra-processed foods: A study

Recent studies have shown that ultra-processed foods (UPFs), ready-made or heat-treated industrial preparations made from ingredients obtained from food or synthesized in laboratories, are gradually replacing traditional foods and dishes made from fresh and minimally processed components.

Although Brazilians consume far fewer of these products than citizens of high-income countries, a study in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, distributed by Elsevier, found that increased consumption of these foods was associated with more than 10 percent of all-cause premature deaths in Brazil in 2019 , which can be prevented.

“Previous modeling studies have estimated the health and economic burden of critical ingredients such as sodium, sugar, and trans fats, and of specific foods or beverages such as sugar-sweetened beverages,” explained lead researcher Eduardo AF Nilson, ScD, Center for Epidemiology. Research in Nutrition and Health, University of Sao Paulo and Oswaldo Cruz Foundation, Brazil. “To our knowledge, no study has yet estimated the potential impact of UPF on premature deaths. Knowing the deaths caused by consumption of these foods and modeling how changes in dietary patterns can support more effective food policies can prevent disease and premature deaths.” “

To determine baseline UPF intake by gender and age group, Drs. Nilson and his colleagues used data from nationally representative dietary surveys as the basis for their modeling. Based on 2019 data, statistical studies were conducted to determine the percentage of total deaths related to UPF use and the effects of reducing UPF intake by 10 percent, 20 percent, and 50 percent in these age groups.

UPF consumption in Brazil during the study period ranged from 13% to 21% of total dietary intake across all age groups and sexes. In 2019, there were 541,260 premature deaths among individuals aged 30 to 69, of which 261,061 were caused by preventable NCDs. The model found that nearly 57,000 deaths that year, or 10.5 percent of all premature deaths and 21.8 percent of all avoidable deaths from noncommunicable diseases, among individuals aged 30 to 69 could be linked to UPF use.

The researchers hypothesized that the estimated impact would be substantially greater in high-income countries such as the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, and Australia, where UPF accounts for more than half of total caloric intake.

Dr Nilson noted that over time in Brazil, consumption of traditional whole foods such as rice and beans has gradually declined. Reducing consumption may require a range of public health interventions and measures, such as fiscal and regulatory policies, changing the food environment, intensifying the implementation of food-based dietary guidelines, and improving consumer knowledge, attitudes and behaviour. UPF and promote healthier food options.

In Brazil, reducing UPF consumption by 10 to 50 percent could potentially prevent 5,900 to 29,300 premature deaths per year.

“UPF consumption is associated with many diseases, such as obesity, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, some cancers and other diseases, and is a significant cause of early and premature death among Brazilian adults,” said Dr. Nilson. “Even reducing UPF consumption to levels just a decade ago would reduce associated premature deaths by 21 percent. Policies to discourage UPF consumption are urgently needed.”

Developing more effective food policy options to promote a healthier food environment can be aided by having a tool to estimate deaths from UPF consumption. The tool can also help nations estimate the burden of dietary changes related to industrial food processing.

Prepackaged sauces, frozen pizza, convenience foods, hot dogs, hot dogs, sodas, ice cream and store-bought cookies, cakes, candies, and donuts are a few examples of UPFs.

(Only the headline and image of this report may have been edited by Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is automatically generated from the syndicated feed.)

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