Ultra-processed foods under scrutiny in Europe for its impact on health


Ultra-processed foods – often microwave-ready meals, breakfast cereals or packaged snacks – are increasingly falling under scrutiny of researchers and health bodies. — dpa

SAID to be a cause of heart disease, diabetes and obesity, so-called “ultra-processed food” has come under scrutiny.

Eating too much ultra-processed food leads to increased risk of heart attack, high blood pressure and stroke, according to research presented at the European Society of Cardiology Congress, held in Copenhagen in late August.

A British government report published in July warned against diets “high in (ultra-)processed foods” as they are “often energy dense, high in saturated fat, salt or free sugars, high in processed meat, and/or low in fruit and vegetables and fibre.”

However more work needs to be done to quantify the impact of ultra-processed food, according to The European Food Information Council (Eufic), which said the Copenhagen papers were not peer-reviewed and that it was not clear what definition of ultra-processed food has been used.

Such research “can lead to misclassification of foods in the UPF categories and misinterpretations of health associations,” Eufic said, meaning the assessments, which received widespread media coverage, “should be considered with caution, until validated data collection methods have been developed for reliable estimation of UPF consumption.”

Eufic said the British government’s July report was along the lines of other such efforts in being “almost exclusively observational,” meaning “confounding factors” such as energy intake, body mass index, cigarette use and socioeconomic status “may not be adequately accounted for.”

Eufic, which receives European Union funding, describes itself as “a consumer-oriented non-profit organisation, founded to make the science behind food and health more accessible and easier to understand among the public.” – dpa

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