A new research published in the medical journal The BMJ and performed by the University of Sao Paulo in Brazil studies the amount of ultra-processed food in the typical American dinner table.

A multitude of nutrition-related diseases have upgraded within the last year in the US, diabetes and obesity numbers are constantly increasing. This sets the way for researchers and nutrition implied organizations to find the main issue that causes this concerning numbers.

Photo: Healthy Protocols
Photo: Healthy Protocols

According to the website, Medical News Today, there are regions that include the states of Arkansas and Mississippi, where obesity rates are over 35%.Also, diabetes affects 1 in 10 Americans in the states of South Carolina, West Virginia, and Alabama.

Professor Carlos Augusto Monteiro was the head of the study at the University of Sao Paulo in Brazil. The main focus of the research was the investigation of ultra-processed foods in the diets of 9,317 subjects. The acquire data comes from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) an ongoing project to study  a group of people that represent the American public in nutrition-related habits.  The data used by the team was collected within the years of 2009-2010.

To understand the meaning of the study better is important to clarify what does ultra-processed food really mean. The authors define ultra-processed foods as “industrial formulations which, besides salt, sugar, oils and fats, include substances  not used in culinary preparations; These substances include flavoring, colorings, sweeteners and other additives that improve sensorial qualities as emulsifiers”.This type of food includes desserts, sugar cereals, reconstituted meat, snacks, instant noodles, to name a few.

It is public knowledge that the excess of sugar insertion causes all types of unhealthy outcomes, like obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and cancer. Adding the fact that these high-sugar foods reduce nutritional values, so people consume large amounts of food but are actually undernourished.

After researching and completing the study, the authors confirmed that ultra-processed foods made up 57,9% of the total energy intake and 89.7% of the energy intake from added sugars.  The adding of sugar in the ultra-processed foods was eight times higher that the percentage of unprocessed (2.4%) or minimally processed foods(3.7%). This means that  1 in 5 calories consumed were ultra-processed foods.

The US Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (USDGAC) recommends that the normally added sugars intake should take only 10% of consumed calories. In the 20% of ultra-processed food consumers, in the study, more than 80% of their energy intake came from added sugars.  The authors concluded that “ Decreasing the consumption of ultra-processed foods could be an effective way of reducing the excessive intake of added sugars in the US”

There has been a growing call from health body organizations to reduce sugar intake,  respected organizations like the British National Health Service (NHS), the Canadian Heart and Stroke foundation and the World Health Organization have made an urgent call on this matter.

Source: Medical News Today