Concern over ultra-processed food in our diets continued to rise throughout 2018.
Palatable and attractive, with a long shelf-life and energy-dense nutritional profile, ultra-processed foods are designed to be eaten anywhere, any time. But these foods are also a significant contributor to the obesity epidemic.
There is a "significant" link between eating ultra-processed food and obesity levels in adults, researchers who studied data for 19 European countries found. Prevalence of obesity ranged from 7.1% in France and 8.2% in Italy, which also had the lowest levels of ultra-processed foods, to nearly one quarter (24.5%) in the UK, which also had the highest intake of ultra-processed foods.
The most commonly eaten ultra-processed foods were packaged bread, sweet baked goods, reconstituted meats and sugar-sweetened beverages.
“The findings reinforce the need for public policies and actions that promote consumption of unprocessed or minimally processed foods and make ultra-processed foods less available and affordable,” the report’s authors concluded.