Food & Drinks

Are ultra-processed foods harmful? Experts present their argument

June9/ 2022

Washington: A study by the American Society for Nutrition [] outline the case for and against using the concept of ultra-processed foods to help inform dietary guidelines beyond conventional food classification systems. The authors, Carlos A. Monteiro, MD, PhD, of the University of Sao Paulo in Sao Paulo, Brazil, and Arne Astrup, MD, PhD, of Novo Nordisk Foundation in Hellerup, Denmark, will discuss the issue in a live virtual debate June 14 during NUTRITION 2022 LIVE ONLINE. The debate centres around NOVA, a system developed by Monteiro and colleagues that classifies foods by their degree of industrial processing, ranging from unprocessed or minimally processed to ultra-processed. NOVA defines ultra-processed foods as those made using sequences of processes that extract substances from foods and alter them with chemicals or additives in order to formulate the final product. Ultra-processed foods are characteristically designed to be cheap, palatable and convenient; examples include soft drinks and candy, packaged snacks and pastries, ready-to-heat products, and reconstituted meat products or plant-based alternatives. Studies have linked consumption of ultra-processed foods -- which are often high in salt, sugar and fat -- with weight gain and an increased risk of chronic diseases, even after adjusting for the amount of salt, sugar and fat in the diet. While the mechanisms behind these associations are not fully understood, Monteiro argues that the existing evidence is sufficient to justify discouraging the consumption of ultra-processed foods in dietary recommendations and government policies. "The negative dietary effects of ultra-processed foods have now been made clear by many ...

Continue Reading