‘Mega-Review’ Highlights Risks of Ultraprocessed Foods on Health

by Ella

A comprehensive review published in The BMJ on February 28 sheds light on the adverse health outcomes associated with the consumption of ultraprocessed foods. Lead author Melissa Lane, PhD, a post-doctoral research fellow and professor at Deakin University in Melbourne, Australia, highlights the consistent trend linking higher intake of ultraprocessed foods to numerous negative health outcomes, urging for public health strategies to address this issue.

Ultraprocessed foods, characterized by their mass-produced nature and industrial formulations, constitute a significant portion of the Western diet, accounting for up to 58% of daily caloric intake in wealthier countries. These products, including sugar-sweetened beverages, packaged baked goods, and ready-to-eat meals, are often laden with added sugars, fats, and salt, while lacking essential nutrients and fiber.


The study, which encompassed 45 distinct pooled meta-analyses from 14 review articles involving almost 10 million participants, revealed compelling evidence linking higher ultraprocessed food consumption to a range of health issues. These include a nearly 50% increased risk of heart disease-related death, a 48 to 53% higher risk of anxiety and common mental disorders, and a 12% greater risk of type 2 diabetes.


Furthermore, the review identified suggestive evidence associating ultraprocessed food intake with a 21% greater risk of all-cause mortality, a 40 to 66% increased risk of heart disease-related death, obesity, type 2 diabetes, and sleep disturbances, as well as a 22% increased risk of depression.


Despite the observational nature of the studies included in the review, the authors underscore the significance of the findings and advocate for urgent mechanistic research and public health interventions aimed at minimizing ultraprocessed food consumption. However, they acknowledge the need for further investigation into the precise mechanisms underlying the health risks posed by these foods and the potential impact on various bodily systems, including the immune system and gut microbiome.


While more trials are needed to elucidate the causal relationship between ultraprocessed foods and chronic diseases, experts emphasize the importance of defining and scrutinizing the term “ultraprocessed” and its specific attributes. Understanding the distinct contributions of different food groups to health outcomes is essential for developing targeted interventions and mitigating the detrimental effects of ultraprocessed foods on public health.



Wellfoodrecipes is a professional gourmet portal, the main columns include gourmet recipes, healthy diet, desserts, festival recipes, meat and seafood recipes, etc.

【Contact us: [email protected]

Copyright © 2023