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Processed Foods and Mortality

July 7, 2019 by

The obesity epidemic in our country is going strong. An adult with a BMI of 30 or more is considered to be obese, and the number of people who fall into this category is continuing to climb. In the U.S., 39.6% of adults were overweight in 2016 and 13% were obese–which are the highest rates to date.

Studies show that there are strong racial and ethnic disparities in obesity. The American Academy of Family Physicians has also found links between a higher prevalence of obesity in adults and demographic factors such as education, address, and income levels. The studies show that people who the highest education who live in urban areas, or those with incomes that are 400% or more than poverty level had lower rates of obesity.

We have all heard that processed food is unhealthy and increases the risk of death and heart disease. However, are you sure that you know all of the foods that would fall into the category of being processed? Some might surprise you.

Only four servings of ultra processed food can increase your risk of death. Food categories are classified by NOVA according to how much processing they go through and why they are being processed. As NOVA was classifying foods, they found an association between foods that are ultra processed and mortality from all causes. However, the chief cause of death was cancer at an average age of 58.

Risk of Heart Disease Increases with Ultra Processed Foods

Researchers have also collected data to evaluate participants’ normal eating habits and the impact it has on their health. In these studies, the researchers were looking at the outcome of cardiovascular and cerebrovascular diseases and its relationship to eating ultra processed foods. The researchers found that one’s intake of ultra processed food is, in fact, associated with an increase risk of these diseases.

Ultra processed make up over half of the food consumed in high-income countries like the USA, the United Kingdom and Canada. In Spain, the consumption of these ultra processed foods grew exponentially between 1990 and 2010.

Weight Gain

Eating ultra processed foods spikes your intake of calories, which causes weight gain. When eating a processed diet, people eat an average of 459 more calories each day than when eating a diet that does not include ultra processed foods. Eating ultra processed foods can also cause people to eat faster, which can lead to eating more.

Researchers have come to believe that eating ultra processed foods leads to a delay in satiety signaling, which then increases one’s overall calorie intake.

Cancer Linked to Ultra Processed Foods

The American Cancer Society reported an estimated 14.1 million cases of cancer worldwide in 2012, which is estimated to grow by 50% to 21.6 million by 2030.
Cells gain energy from breathing, and cancer cells metabolize differently than healthy cells. While smoking has been the number one cause for preventable cancer for years, obesity is now not too far behind, and may catch up as early as five years from now.

Compared to people with a healthy weight, obese people are also at an increased risk of having a recurrence of their cancer, which also reduces their likelihood of survival. In fact, increased body weight has been linked to increased death rates for every type of cancer.

Obesity also increases one’s risk of other health concerns and can put a huge strain on one’s finances. Obese adults spend an average of 42% more on direct care costs than those who are a healthy weight, and people who are morbidly obese pay 81% more than adults who are a healthy weight. Some additional medical and physical concerns that may come along with obesity include heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, and gallstones.

What are the ingredients in ultra processed foods?

Ultra processed food and drinks contain synthetic ingredients that are made into industrial formulations, typically with at least five ingredients that may be used to duplicate sensory qualities or mask undesirable sensory qualities, including sugar, excess fats, oils, and preservatives.

Some foods that are considered to be ultra processed include:
Commercial breads
Ice cream
Instant soup
Packaged macaroni and cheese
Energy drinks and bars
Fruit juice
Baby formula
Microwave meals

Your diet is an important thing to keep in mind when you are considering your longevity. There is a severe health epidemic in the US, so it is important to pay attention to the fuel that you are giving your body on a regular basis. Try to make sure to eat foods that are just one ingredient and came from the earth such as fruits and vegetables.

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