Consuming Highly Processed Foods Tied to Premature Mortality and Mental Health Issues

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Worldsfeed Health Desk: Eating a lot of ready-to-eat foods like packaged snacks, sodas, and instant noodles can lead to more than 30 health problems, according to a new study. The research looked at information from nearly 10 million people and found that these “ultra-processed” foods, which have lots of ingredients we might not recognize, are linked to issues like cancer, heart disease, obesity, and even mood disorders.

In the U.S., more than half of the calories people consume come from these kinds of foods, and that’s worrying because they seem to raise the risk of getting sick or dying from chronic diseases. The study, published in The BMJ, is like a big summary of lots of other studies done in the past three years, involving almost 10 million participants.

The research found that eating ultra-processed foods can increase the chances of facing 32 different health problems. These include a higher risk of anxiety, heart disease, and Type 2 diabetes. The study showed a 40 to 53 percent increase in the risk of anxiety and common mental disorders, a 50 percent higher risk of dying from cardiovascular disease, and a 12 percent greater risk of getting Type 2 diabetes.

There was also strong evidence for a 21 percent higher risk of overall death, a 22 percent higher risk of depression, and a 40 to 66 percent increased risk of heart disease-related death, obesity, Type 2 diabetes, and sleep problems.

However, the study couldn’t find as much evidence for problems like asthma, gastrointestinal issues, cancers, high blood fats, and low levels of “good” cholesterol being linked to these foods.

The researchers say that although their study gives a big picture, it can’t cover everything, and there might be other things influencing the results. They’re calling for more research to understand how these foods affect our health and are also urging public health actions to reduce the consumption of ultra-processed foods.

If you want to avoid these foods, the easiest way is to check the ingredients list. If there are lots of ingredients that don’t sound like real food, it’s probably ultra-processed, and it might be a good idea to choose something else to eat.

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