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Although pre-packaged snacks, processed ready-to-eat foods and frozen pizza may seem like a way of getting a quick meal in the long term, it could be costly. New research shows that such dietary decisions may cost you time in a different way. 

Eating ultra-processed foods can lead to early death from all causes

Brazilian researchers have found that eating ultra-processed foods (UPFs) is linked to more than 10% of early, avoidable deaths from all causes. At the same time, this percentage may be considerably higher in the United States.

Ultra-processed foods are ready-to-eat-or-heat manufactured formulations derived from ingredients obtained from foods. These foods include sauces, frozen pizzas, soups, candies, sodas, sausages, and doughnuts. It’s also crucial to remember that, even though this study’s eating patterns were based on those of Brazilians, higher-income countries (like the USA) often consume much more ultra-processed meals.

Lead study investigator Eduardo A.F. Nilson said that past modelling studies had estimated the economic and health burden of crucial ingredients like trans fats and sugar, sodium,  and certain drinks or foods like sugar-sweetened drinks. Nilson added that, to date, there has never been research that evaluated the possible influence of UPFs on early mortality. However, he added that disease and early death might be avoided by being aware of the fatalities linked to the use of certain items and simulating how dietary adjustments can assist more successful food policy.

Detrimental health impact of UPFs higher in high-income nations 

Researchers postulate that UPFs may have detrimental health impact which is even likely to be higher in high-income nations like the UK, Canada and the US. Nilson noted that UPFs are gradually replacing the consumption of conventional whole grains like beans and rice in Brazil. 

It might not be simple to get people to eat healthier foods and reduce their consumption of UPFs. It may be necessary to apply various strategies and preventive health initiatives, including monetary and regulatory measures, altering dietary choices, stepping up the execution of food-based dietary recommendations, and enhancing consumer awareness, beliefs, and patterns.