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Ultra-processed foods study

MorgaathMorgaath Posts: 679Member Member Posts: 679Member Member
Link to the "Ultra-processed food" study. http://bmjopen.bmj.com/content/6/3/e009892.full

Seems in the US close to 60% of our cals come from ultra-processed foods.

Results:
Ultra-processed foods comprised 57.9% of energy intake, and contributed 89.7% of the energy intake from added sugars. The content of added sugars in ultra-processed foods (21.1% of calories) was eightfold higher than in processed foods (2.4%) and fivefold higher than in unprocessed or minimally processed foods and processed culinary ingredients grouped together (3.7%). Both in unadjusted and adjusted models, each increase of 5 percentage points in proportional energy intake from ultra-processed foods increased the proportional energy intake from added sugars by 1 percentage point. Consumption of added sugars increased linearly across quintiles of ultra-processed food consumption: from 7.5% of total energy in the lowest quintile to 19.5% in the highest. A total of 82.1% of Americans in the highest quintile exceeded the recommended limit of 10% energy from added sugars, compared with 26.4% in the lowest.

Food classification according to processing:
We classified all recorded food items (N=280 132 Food Codes for both recall days) according to NOVA, a food classification based on the extent and purpose of industrial food processing.23–25 This classification includes four groups:
‘unprocessed or minimally processed foods’ (such as fresh, dry or frozen fruits or vegetables, grains, legumes, meat, fish and milk);
‘processed culinary ingredients’ (including table sugar, oils, fats, salt, and other substances extracted from foods or from nature, and used in kitchens to make culinary preparations);
‘processed foods’ (foods manufactured with the addition of salt or sugar or other substances of culinary use to unprocessed or minimally processed foods, such as canned food and simple breads and cheese) and
‘ultra-processed foods’ (formulations of several ingredients which, besides salt, sugar, oils and fats, include food substances not used in culinary preparations, in particular, flavours, colours, sweeteners, emulsifiers and other additives used to imitate sensorial qualities of unprocessed or minimally processed foods and their culinary preparations or to disguise undesirable qualities of the final product).
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Replies

  • 3bambi33bambi3 Posts: 1,652Member Member Posts: 1,652Member Member
    This is the conclusion:
    Decreasing the consumption of ultra-processed foods could be an effective way of reducing the excessive intake of added sugars in the USA.

    I'm not really shocked. By either the findings or the conclusion.
  • rileysownerrileysowner Posts: 7,848Member Member Posts: 7,848Member Member
    Reducing calories consumed lowers added sugars as well due to overall decrease in consumption.
  • lemurcat12lemurcat12 Posts: 30,886Member Member Posts: 30,886Member Member
    I think it makes more sense to look at foods individually rather than categories, and to read labels. For example, I usually add protein powder if I eat oatmeal and did this morning (Tera's whey), and it is ultraprocessed, of course, but also had only 3 grams of sugar (because whey). (No added sugar in the oats or blueberries, unless adding blueberries counts as added sugar.)

    Mostly this kind of thing annoys me because the 60% of what Americans eat is an average. Many of us simply don't eat much ultraprocessed foods (especially with added sugar or sat fat or whatever), so focusing on cutting those would do nothing to improve our diets. I think it makes more sense to focus on eating calorie appropriate diets and including healthful foods (like vegetables, good sources of protein, etc.) that would together make up a sensible, balanced diet. Some people can do that even with more processed foods (although it's not my personal choice) and may have time or poor cooking skills as a block. Rather than being told that means they can't eat healthfully, I'd focus on reading and understanding labels (and also learning to cook, of course).
  • lemurcat12lemurcat12 Posts: 30,886Member Member Posts: 30,886Member Member
    Reducing calories consumed lowers added sugars as well due to overall decrease in consumption.

    This is also a good point -- my guess is that a lot of the ultraprocessed stuff is inherently snacky stuff eaten in additional to regular meals, so cutting down on that stuff is the issue (which happens when you cut calories), not processing in and of itself.
  • MorgaathMorgaath Posts: 679Member Member Posts: 679Member Member
    Ultra-processed foods -- Examples of ultra-processed foods include mass produced soft drinks, sweet or savory packaged snacks, packaged baked goods, chicken or fish nuggets and other reconstituted meat products, and instant noodles and soups.

    "Many of us simply don't eat much ultraprocessed foods" -- Yes, yes we do. How much soda gets drank? How many bags of Doritos get eaten? How many people are living on next to no fresh fruits and veggies? How many foods do you have to put down at the store because the label tells you it is filled with extra stuff? Someone is eating it.

    Now if you had said "Some of us"... yep, some of us (But not me)... but I'd put it at less than 20% of the American population. Might not even hit 10%. Some of the people in the survey fell in that group...

    "Consumption of added sugars increased linearly across quintiles of ultra-processed food consumption: from 7.5% of total energy in the lowest quintile [Me: Folks who eat very little ultra-processed food] to 19.5% in the highest [Me: Folks who eat a lot of ultra-processed food]. A total of 82.1% of Americans in the highest quintile exceeded the recommended limit of 10% energy from added sugars, compared with 26.4% in the lowest."
  • lemurcat12lemurcat12 Posts: 30,886Member Member Posts: 30,886Member Member
    Morgaath wrote: »
    Ultra-processed foods -- Examples of ultra-processed foods include mass produced soft drinks, sweet or savory packaged snacks, packaged baked goods, chicken or fish nuggets and other reconstituted meat products, and instant noodles and soups.

    And protein powder.
    "Many of us simply don't eat much ultraprocessed foods" -- Yes, yes we do. How much soda gets drank? How many bags of Doritos get eaten? How many people are living on next to no fresh fruits and veggies? How many foods do you have to put down at the store because the label tells you it is filled with extra stuff? Someone is eating it.

    That many people DO eat that stuff doesn't mean that many of us do not. I don't eat much of it at all, so telling me to cut back on ultra processed foods would have helped not at all. (I probably eat more now, as I added protein powder and the occasional protein bar when losing weight.)

    Soda is a good example, since my understanding is that a huge percentage of the soda consumed is consumed by a relatively small portion of users. (Also, diet soda is a highly processed food that adds no sugar.)
    "Consumption of added sugars increased linearly across quintiles of ultra-processed food consumption: from 7.5% of total energy in the lowest quintile [Me: Folks who eat very little ultra-processed food] to 19.5% in the highest [Me: Folks who eat a lot of ultra-processed food]. A total of 82.1% of Americans in the highest quintile exceeded the recommended limit of 10% energy from added sugars, compared with 26.4% in the lowest."

    Again, is this because of so-called hidden sugars -- people eat lots of ultra processed foods for dinner and so on? Or is it (as I suspect) because if you choose to eat lots of snacky foods and drink soda (which are foods with lots of added sugar that one eats typically as excess calories, outside of mealtimes) that one will also be eating lots of added sugars.

    To put that another way, I bet if you looked at Americans who consumed lots of sugary foods, you'd find that lots of them ALSO ate lots of ultra processed foods (since the easy availability of sugary foods is in large part from ultra processed foods) but a significant minority who didn't (but made their treats at home). It is the "ultra processed" foods which are the issue or the fact that people are choosing high cal, low nutrient foods and eating lots of excess calories in drinks and snack foods? I think the latter.

    The main influence of ultra processed foods is that it makes high cal foods so easily available and cheap (in terms of time and money to acquire them).
  • lemurcat12lemurcat12 Posts: 30,886Member Member Posts: 30,886Member Member
    To add to this, and for discussion, when I looked up where added sugar in the American diet was coming from, it was all things that are chosen FOR THEIR SWEETNESS. It wasn't some accidental effect of choosing ultra processed foods.

    The biggest source is sugary drinks, like soda and fruit drinks (this is a huge one): over 42%
    Then, grain-based desserts (basically, sweet baked goods): 13%
    Candy: 7%
    Dairy desserts: 5.6%

    So about 70% of it is accounted for by people choosing dessert-type foods, not by them accidently consuming sugar as a side-effect of processing. Therefore, that many Americans are getting lots of sugar from these foods seems like a statement of the obvious, not some big revelation.

    Cereal has to be another big one, and again that's going to be a food people choose for sweetness. Another source is sugar added to coffee.

    So what I think this means (but am interested in conversation) is that the high sugar treats Americans eat happen to also fall within the ultra processed group, not that the issue is that we are eating ultra processed foods.

    I avoid most ultra processed foods because I usually don't like them, but some are high cal and have added sugar and not many nutrients and some have a much better profile. (I do eat ice cream, but it would be a high sugar dessert food whether I buy it or make it at home. Pretending that I could eat unlimited ice cream as a health food if I don't buy the packaged stuff wouldn't make much sense.)
  • jgnatcajgnatca Posts: 14,495Member Member Posts: 14,495Member Member
    I'm trying to recall if I've had any ultra processed food yet today. Does peanut butter count?

    Oh, yes, half a protein bar for morning snack. That would count.

    But I got more sugar from my blueberries at breakfast and my apple at lunch.
  • HornsbyHornsby Posts: 10,372Member Member Posts: 10,372Member Member
    I had 2 Tootsie Pops at the gym. Not really all that processed.
  • ndj1979ndj1979 Posts: 29,021Member Member Posts: 29,021Member Member
    3bambi3 wrote: »
    This is the conclusion:
    Decreasing the consumption of ultra-processed foods could be an effective way of reducing the excessive intake of added sugars in the USA.

    I'm not really shocked. By either the findings or the conclusion.

    in other news, the sun rose today and it will set ...

  • RoxieDawnRoxieDawn Posts: 15,518Member, Premium Member Posts: 15,518Member, Premium Member
    Ultra processed Bold Check mix and Diet Dr. Pepper for my snack a few minutes ago.

    I had more sugar from my 124 gram granny smith apple and 80 grams of grapes at lunch time... I did have raw veggies at lunch as well. Did I cancelled something out? maybe? I live 15 minutes from fresh fruits and veggies.. shame on me. ;)

    I am going to add this, I have been in this MFP game for a year and half now and I can watch people in the grocery stores put things in their buggies and have no idea what they are eating. I truly believe that there are a whole lot of people out there that do not even know what a calorie is. My point is, I used to shop just like too, and walk right by fresh produce, fresh lean meats and never gave a thought to it until I wanted to loose some excess baggage I was carrying around and wanted to know how I got that way.

    Until one wants to, or needs to be educated on right food choices, one keeps meandering in life really thinking that what they choose is eat is healthy or providing them with their daily needs People will come around to their health and lifestyle at some point or another, or will leave the earth a few years shorter than others.

    Too bad that this debate cannot be on the front page of the newspapers or internet daily news or even the nightly news. Cause the "Carbs Causes Lung Cancer" news a few days ago made its way around news outlets pretty fast, perhaps something like this can too. sigh...
  • stealthqstealthq Posts: 4,307Member Member Posts: 4,307Member Member
    lemurcat12 wrote: »
    To add to this, and for discussion, when I looked up where added sugar in the American diet was coming from, it was all things that are chosen FOR THEIR SWEETNESS. It wasn't some accidental effect of choosing ultra processed foods.

    The biggest source is sugary drinks, like soda and fruit drinks (this is a huge one): over 42%
    Then, grain-based desserts (basically, sweet baked goods): 13%
    Candy: 7%
    Dairy desserts: 5.6%

    So about 70% of it is accounted for by people choosing dessert-type foods, not by them accidently consuming sugar as a side-effect of processing. Therefore, that many Americans are getting lots of sugar from these foods seems like a statement of the obvious, not some big revelation.

    Cereal has to be another big one, and again that's going to be a food people choose for sweetness. Another source is sugar added to coffee.

    So what I think this means (but am interested in conversation) is that the high sugar treats Americans eat happen to also fall within the ultra processed group, not that the issue is that we are eating ultra processed foods.

    I avoid most ultra processed foods because I usually don't like them, but some are high cal and have added sugar and not many nutrients and some have a much better profile. (I do eat ice cream, but it would be a high sugar dessert food whether I buy it or make it at home. Pretending that I could eat unlimited ice cream as a health food if I don't buy the packaged stuff wouldn't make much sense.)

    In fact, you'd be closer to able to eat unlimited ice cream with the purchased stuff. See: Halo Top, Arctic Zero.

    Another example of ultra-processed being 'better' than regular.

    Under the definition of ultra-processed, doesn't that include everything with an artificial sweetener? In that case, there's a whole bunch of foods that are better ultra-processed than not from a sugar content and probably calorie content standpoint.
  • ForecasterJasonForecasterJason Posts: 2,582Member Member Posts: 2,582Member Member
    RoxieDawn wrote: »
    I am going to add this, I have been in this MFP game for a year and half now and I can watch people in the grocery stores put things in their buggies and have no idea what they are eating. I truly believe that there are a whole lot of people out there that do not even know what a calorie is. My point is, I used to shop just like too, and walk right by fresh produce, fresh lean meats and never gave a thought to it until I wanted to loose some excess baggage I was carrying around and wanted to know how I got that way.

    Until one wants to, or needs to be educated on right food choices, one keeps meandering in life really thinking that what they choose is eat is healthy or providing them with their daily needs People will come around to their health and lifestyle at some point or another, or will leave the earth a few years shorter than others.

    Too bad that this debate cannot be on the front page of the newspapers or internet daily news or even the nightly news. Cause the "Carbs Causes Lung Cancer" news a few days ago made its way around news outlets pretty fast, perhaps something like this can too. sigh...
    Good post; you brought up some good points.

  • yarwellyarwell Posts: 10,573Member Member Posts: 10,573Member Member
    Setting National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 2009–2010.

    Participants We evaluated 9317 participants aged 1+ years with at least one 24 h dietary recall.

    So a reliable body of evidence ?
  • Gianfranco_RGianfranco_R Posts: 1,297Member Member Posts: 1,297Member Member
    yarwell wrote: »
    Setting National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 2009–2010.

    Participants We evaluated 9317 participants aged 1+ years with at least one 24 h dietary recall.

    So a reliable body of evidence ?

    they write (bold emphasis mine):
    Potential limitations should be considered. As with most population measures, dietary data obtained by 24 h recalls are imperfect. However, the standardised methods and approach of NHANES minimise potential error and bias, particularly for assessing population averages as focused on in the present study. Previous studies suggest that people with obesity may under-report consumption of foods with caloric sweeteners43 such as desserts and sweet baked goods.44 ,45 If so, these biases may lead to an underestimation of the dietary contribution of ultra-processed foods and the overall intake of added sugars, but should have much less effect on the association between these. Although NHANES collects some information indicative of food processing (ie, place of meals, product brands), these data are not consistently determined for all food items, which could lead to modest overestimation or underestimation of the consumption of ultra-processed foods.
  • yarwellyarwell Posts: 10,573Member Member Posts: 10,573Member Member
    It would be interesting to look at sales of ultra-processed foods, if only to provide a cross check on the occasional recall diary data.
  • tomtebodatomteboda Posts: 2,176Member Member Posts: 2,176Member Member
    Processed foods isn't scary enough, so a new term needed to be invented?
  • lemurcat12lemurcat12 Posts: 30,886Member Member Posts: 30,886Member Member
    tomteboda wrote: »
    Processed foods isn't scary enough, so a new term needed to be invented?

    I imagine it's because processed foods is so encompassing and wouldn't support the claims made.
  • RobD520RobD520 Posts: 419Member Member Posts: 419Member Member
    lemurcat12 wrote: »
    To add to this, and for discussion, when I looked up where added sugar in the American diet was coming from, it was all things that are chosen FOR THEIR SWEETNESS. It wasn't some accidental effect of choosing ultra processed foods.

    The biggest source is sugary drinks, like soda and fruit drinks (this is a huge one): over 42%
    Then, grain-based desserts (basically, sweet baked goods): 13%
    Candy: 7%
    Dairy desserts: 5.6%

    So about 70% of it is accounted for by people choosing dessert-type foods, not by them accidently consuming sugar as a side-effect of processing. Therefore, that many Americans are getting lots of sugar from these foods seems like a statement of the obvious, not some big revelation.

    Cereal has to be another big one, and again that's going to be a food people choose for sweetness. Another source is sugar added to coffee.

    So what I think this means (but am interested in conversation) is that the high sugar treats Americans eat happen to also fall within the ultra processed group, not that the issue is that we are eating ultra processed foods.

    I avoid most ultra processed foods because I usually don't like them, but some are high cal and have added sugar and not many nutrients and some have a much better profile. (I do eat ice cream, but it would be a high sugar dessert food whether I buy it or make it at home. Pretending that I could eat unlimited ice cream as a health food if I don't buy the packaged stuff wouldn't make much sense.)

    I think that this is mostly true. People who get lots of added sugar from these foods are usually seeking the sugar.

    Sodium may be a different issue. Package foods contain sodium sometimes to help preserve and add time to shelf-life.
  • lemurcat12lemurcat12 Posts: 30,886Member Member Posts: 30,886Member Member
    Yes, I agree with that.
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