Consuming highly processed meals may reduce longevity and increase risk of early death: study

May 9, New Delhi Do you like overindulging in ready-to-eat or heated meals, carbonated beverages, packaged baked products, and sugary cereals? It may shorten your life expectancy and increase your chance of dying young, according to 30-year research that was published on Thursday in the journal The BMJ.

Ultra-processed foods are dangerous because they frequently include colors, emulsifiers, flavors, and other additives. They are also high in energy, added sugar, saturated fat, and salt, but low in vitamins and fiber. These factors can cause poor health and increase the risk of obesity, diabetes, and hypertension, which in turn can increase the risk of cancer and cardiovascular diseases.

An international team of researchers from the US, Brazil, and China monitored the long-term health of 39,501 male health professionals from all 50 US states from 1986 to 2018 who had no history of diabetes, cardiovascular disease, or cancer, and 74,563 female registered nurses from 11 US states between 1984 and 2018.

According to the findings, consuming seven servings of ultra-processed food on average a day increased the chance of mortality overall by 4% and of death from other causes, including neurological diseases, by 9%.

In this group of individuals, the mortality rate from all causes was 1,536 per 100,000 person-years.

Additionally, consuming ready-to-eat foods with meat, poultry, and fish exhibited the highest risk of premature mortality, which was followed by drinks sweetened with sugar or artificial sweeteners, sweets made with dairy, and very processed morning foods.

The researchers concluded that “the findings provide support for limiting consumption of certain types of ultra-processed food for long-term health,” despite the fact that this is an observational study and no clear conclusions can be drawn regarding cause and effect.

“More research is necessary to enhance the categorization of highly processed foods and validate our results in diverse demographics,” they concluded.

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