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Full list of 32 ways processed foods can harm your body

Full list of 32 ways processed foods can harm your body

Maybe it's time to think twice about that ready meal

A full list of dozens of ways ultra-processed foods (UPF) can harm your body has been released by researchers.

A total of 32 harmful effects on your health have been identified by scientific research published in the British Medical Journal.

It's the first systematic umbrella review of harmful impacts this kind of food has on us.

An empty ready meal tray.
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The kind of food included in the UPF umbrella includes ice cream, crisps, ready meals, fizzy drinks and takeaways.

Importantly, it also includes what some see as more healthier such as protein bars.

The study is worrying, with it finding that the more we eat ultra-processed foods, the larger the risk when it comes to having adverse health outcomes.

It says: "Greater exposure to ultra-processed food was associated with a higher risk of adverse health outcomes, especially cardiometabolic, common mental disorder, and mortality outcomes.

"These findings provide a rationale to develop and evaluate the effectiveness of using population based and public health measures to target and reduce dietary exposure to ultra-processed foods for improved human health. They also inform and provide support for urgent mechanistic research."

Across high income countries, ultra-processed foods make up 42 percent and 58 percent of food consumed in Australia and the United States, respectively, to as low as 10% and 25% in Italy and South Korea.

Ultra-processed foods.
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The full list of health risks you're more open to due to eating UPF is as follows:

  • Death
  • Cancer-related death
  • Cardiovascular-related death
  • Heart disease-related death
  • Breast cancer
  • Cancer (overall)
  • Central nervous system tumours
  • Leukaemia
  • Colorectal cancer
  • Pancreatic cancer
  • Prostate cancer
  • Sleep-related problems
  • Anxiety
  • Common mental health problems
  • Depression
  • Asthma
  • Wheezing
  • Cardiovascular disease events, such as heart attacks
  • Cardiovascular disease deaths
  • Hypertension
  • Hypertriglyceridemia, which means too many triglycerides (fats) in the blood
  • Low HDL cholesterol
  • Crohn's disease
  • Ulcerative colitis, which is inflammation of the lower digestive system
  • Abdominal obesity
  • Hyperglycaemia, where your blood sugar is too high
  • Metabolic syndrome, a group of health problems that can lead to heart issues or diabetes
  • Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease
  • Obesity
  • Overweight
  • Overweight + obesity
  • Type 2 diabetes

The findings were brought together through a combination of food frequency questionnaires, 24-hour dietary recalls, and dietary history.

Donuts are just one kind of UPF.
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The research says: "Overall, direct associations were found between exposure to ultra-processed foods and 32 (71%) health parameters spanning mortality, cancer, and mental, respiratory, cardiovascular, gastrointestinal, and metabolic health outcomes.

"Based on the pre-specified evidence classification criteria, convincing evidence supported direct associations between greater ultra-processed food exposure and higher risks of incident cardiovascular disease related mortality and type 2 diabetes, as well as higher risks of prevalent anxiety outcomes and combined common mental disorder outcomes."

Featured Image Credit: Getty Stock Images

Topics: Food And Drink, Health, Science