Study warns ultra-processed foods may cause death risk to skyrocket

Frequently eating ultra-processed foods, such as chips, microwave meals, and other convenience foods, may pave the way for heart disease and drastically increase your risk of dying from it. The findings come from the Department of Epidemiology and Prevention at the I.R.C.C.S. Neuromed, where researchers found that overall death risk increases in association with ultra-processed foods.

Ultra-processed foods are ones that usually contain large amounts of salt, sugar, and oil while generally having low amounts of nutrients. These foods are extensively processed and, generally speaking, do not resemble any sort of whole or minimally-processed foods.

Many people consume ultra-processed foods on a regular basis due to the convenience and appeal — and this, the study notes, may wreak havoc on one's health. Using data on more than 22,000 people who participated in the Moli-sani Project, the study found that consuming a 'high amount' of these foods increased the risk of death from heart disease by 58-percent and the risk of death from all causes by 26-percent.

The data involved eating habits and health issues over nearly a decade, ultimately linking the frequent consumption of ultra-processed foods with increased death risk. In particular, sugar appeared to present the greatest risk when it came to these foods as it is typically found in very high quantities.

However, the sugar only accounted for 40-percent of the observed death risk, and the researchers speculate that the processing aspect of these products may itself have a big role on the impact. The results are troubling, particularly in light of the readily available number of ultra-processed foods and the frequency with which they're consumed.

University of Insubria professor of Hygiene and Public Health noted:

Efforts aimed to lead the population towards a healthier diet can no longer be addressed only by calorie counting or by vague references to the Mediterranean diet. Sure, we obtained good results by those means, but now the battlefront is moving [...] Spending a few more minutes cooking a lunch instead of warming a container in the microwave, or maybe preparing a sandwich for our children instead of putting a pre-packaged snack in their backpack: these are actions that will reward us over the years.